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Scottish Cyber Cluster Report

ScotlandIS Cyber have completed a report on the Scottish cyber security cluster, which seeks to offer a ‘snap-shot’ of the cyber security sector in Scotland (captured September 2020), and provides an overview of the make-up and scale of the sector.

Cyber security is now integral to every business and sector across Scotland as we move towards a more digitally enabled society. Cyber skills are crucial if we are to grow Scotland’s digital economy. Cyber-attacks and threats are growing across the globe, and thus there is an increasing demand for specialist cyber security skills.

This report looks at the Scottish cyber security sector as a whole and the encompassing elements of the sector such as skills, innovation, areas of expertise, academia, and more. It also covers learning and insights from other clusters around the UK and internationally.

Some key takeaways from the cyber cluster report are:

  • The Scottish cyber cluster currently includes around 230 cyber security companies
  • Approximately 48% are companies founded in Scotland or company headquarters are based in Scotland
  • In the past 5 years, around 10 new Scottish cyber companies have been set-up per year
  • 70% of Scottish universities now offer courses in cyber security
  • The cyber workforce in Scotland has seen steady growth with 4.3% of core cyber security job vacancies being placed in Scotland in the last three years

There are many positives to take from these statistics, particularly in the academic sector. As highlighted above, 70% of Scottish universities now offer courses in cyber security, across Bachelor’s degrees, Masters and PhDs. Within the UK, currently the only fully certified NCSC Bachelor’s degree is in Scotland at Edinburgh’s Napier University, and Scotland also has a number of NCSC certified Masters.

Scotland is home to an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACEs-CSR), with Edinburgh University having received this accolade, one of 19 across the UK. Since the report was issued, we have also had more recent successes in the newly announced NCSC Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Education (ACEs-CSE) – with Abertay University being awarded a Gold award and Edinburgh Napier awarded a Silver award.

Some areas were noted as areas of improvement and development for the cyber cluster, such as the level of investments being made in Scottish Cyber companies. The UK Cyber Sector Analysis report documents that the total UK investment made between the end of 2017 and end of 2019 was £968 million, which was invested through 290 investments. According to this report, Scotland won £6 million of this, with a total of 14 investments being made. One of the concerns raised is that Scottish companies might be too reliant on Scottish investment firms and not looking for investment beyond the UK. From data collated it appears that approximately 80% of the investments (related to volume of investment, not size) have come from Scottish investment companies, with the remaining 20% coming from UK investment companies.

As highlighted in the report, the Scottish cyber cluster has many positives that it can take encouragement from, such as a large cyber community with a good mix of company types at all stages of their journeys, from start-ups, scale-ups, SMEs and large global enterprises. Additionally, there is a strong and well recognised academic and research capability in Scotland which is continuing to grow, and an ongoing focus on cyber skills at all levels. Collectively, these combine for a strong cyber security job market in Scotland. On the whole there is much to celebrate when it comes to Scotland’s cyber security cluster. The full report can be found here –

The full report can be found here

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