Cyber Ireland Outgoing Chair Address

Cyber Ireland has grown impressively during my tenure as Chair over the past three years. There are now 150 members nationwide, with 80 Irish companies, almost 50 MNCs, as well as Knowledge providers, government agencies and an ever-growing number of start-ups.

We have financial security, strong revenue streams and a clear line of sight into other exciting funding opportunities that will support our many initiatives that are tied to our workstreams.

Outgoing Cyber Ireland Chair Paul Walsh

Our industry is facing challenges, and security teams are overwhelmed. Hiring qualified staff is difficult and retaining them even more so. For this reason, Talent & Skills are extremely critical and a major focus for Cyber Ireland. It is a priority workstream and I want to highlight key achievements in this area;

  • Cyber Ireland has advised on several new cyber security courses, including 15 new courses subsidised by the government in 2022.
  • Cyber Ireland is partnered with Cyber Skills, a national government-funded project set up to address the cyber security skills shortages in industry. Three courses were piloted in 2021, and eight new course pathways were introduced this year for specific cyber security job roles.
  • We updated our Course Map, with 25 new programmes added.
  • We launched the Cyber Ireland Cyber Security Skills Initiatives Brochure at the national conference, providing an overview of the key training & upskilling initiatives for industry.
On the Research & Development front; 
  • We have created an R&D Workshop series – focusing on relevant supports & projects from EU funding to Innovation and Digitalisation.
  • There is a new funding portal on our website with information on upcoming calls.
  • We also launched our R&D Provider Brochure at the national conference, which maps the cyber security R&D expertise in research centres & groups for industry to engage with nationwide.
 Through our Grow & Export: workstream
  • We participated in International Business Supports in collaboration with Enterprise Ireland
  • We were part of the first Irish exhibit at InfoSec London in July
  • We hosted a US Inward Buyer Visit of CISOs from the West Coast to Cork & Dublin
  • Participated in a Market Study Visit to the Netherlands and connected with the Dutch Security Cluster
  • We are also focused on Building a cyber security start-up ecosystem
  • Creating a Soft Landing support for Cyber Ireland members to other clusters through our partnership with Global EPIC
  • In June – we hosted the Cyber Investor Days series with Enterprise Ireland & ECSO, with 12 start-ups pitching to investors and partners from across Europe.
  • We also hosted a Student Cybersecurity Start-up Weekend with MTU.
We launched the State of the Cyber Security Sector in Ireland 2022 Report last May, which focused on ways for us to achieve our cyber security potential. 

The report states that in 2021, annual cyber security related revenue in Ireland reached approximately €2.1bn. It also estimates Ireland’s cyber security sector generated approximately €1.1bn in GVA in 2021 employing 7,500 professionals across 490 firms. GVA per employee within the cyber security sector is strong in Ireland (€150k) signalling a productive workforce. This compares favourably to the UK estimate of c. €120k.

This analysis shows that the cyber security sector is growing in Ireland by a similar magnitude to international growth, at a rate of 10%+ per annum. This suggests that based on the current baseline estimates, Ireland’s cyber security ecosystem could support up to €2.5bn in annual GVA with the employment of over 17,000 cyber security professionals in the sector by 2030.

The report called out the cyber security skills shortages and skills gaps as the number one challenge facing the cyber security sector in Ireland. This shortage impacts all digital intensive sectors of the economy, as well as the public sector, which needs cyber security expertise. 

To resolve this growing problem we must develop a pipeline of homegrown cyber security talent. We have to develop cyber security skills in young people, raise awareness of cyber careers among students and provide opportunities in the sector for people from diverse backgrounds. Adding 10,000 cyber professionals is critical to driving our ecosystem forward. 

The report also highlighted Government as a Driver: The Irish government can be a coordinator, incubator and business catalyst to drive the development of Ireland’s cyber security cluster. It is important to demonstrate at government and political levels that Ireland is a secure place to do business, has a strong, resilient digital government and economy, and understands and takes cyber security seriously. This messaging is of critical importance in establishing both national, and international, political credibility.

It also calls for the Development of a Cyber Security R&D Ecosystem to realise our potential to be a location for world-class talent, innovation and solutions. Cyber security must be made a national research priority with the necessary investment from both the public and private sectors.

The final key recommendation was for the Scaling of the Domestic Cyber Security Industry. Ireland requires a strong domestic cyber security sector with companies of scale that can deliver high-value services to 

a) provide cyber resilience for the country and

 b) compete internationally, in the EU Single Market. 

To do so, we must scale the size and operations of indigenous companies so that they can compete with the offerings and services of MNCs. There is a need to develop the capacity, both technologically and organisationally, of the domestic sector to be able to deliver high-value services. 

The findings of the report very much line up with our core focus areas and workstreams. It further reinforces our strategies to unite all aspects of the cyber security industry in Ireland.

It was an honour to serve as the inaugural Chair over the past three years, and I want to thank you for all your support. I want to acknowledge the amazing contribution of the board and in particular our outgoing members, Carmel Summers, David Coffey, Shane Walsh & Martin Corkery. They have given their time freely and played a significant role in the success of Cyber Ireland. Thank you all for your service.

Pat Larkin has taken over as our new Chair, and I wish him every success. Pat has been a very active member of our board since its inception, and I am so pleased he has accepted this role. He is a natural leader and the board is very much looking forward to working with him as we grow the Cyber Ireland ecosystem.

I am reminded of a quote I heard some time ago “There is no heavier burden than unfulfilled potential”. We believe there is a great opportunity, full of possibilities that can drive the cyber security industry in Ireland to new heights.