Strengthening International Relationships with the Dutch Cybersecurity Ecosystem 

A delegation of 6 Irish cyber security companies, and Cyber Ireland members, took part on an Enterprise Ireland (EI) organised Market Study Visit (MSV) to the Netherlands in September 2022 to assess the business opportunities of the region, including Waratek, Stryve, Tines, Edgescan & Channel Mechanics.  The trip helped to strengthen the international relationships with the Dutch Cybersecurity Ecosystem. 

The MSV built on an EI Market Research Report in 2019 on the European Cybersecurity Market opportunities for Irish companies – ‘European Cybersecurity Market: Mapping the Opportunities and Route to Market for Irish SMEs.’ The report identified the Netherlands as one of three clusters with a mature cyber security market. 

The Hague is a region of 3.7m people and brands itself as a Secure & Digital Gateway to Europe. Furthermore, the Netherlands is a leader in Europe for security & cybersecurity: there are over 600 (Cyber)security businesses employing 17,600 professionals with a turnover of almost €3 billion and >9% annual market growth. 

The region is the 3rd largest pool of cyber security professionals in Europe. There is a strong presence of governmental and international organisations in the Hague specifically, including the UN International Court of Justice, Europol, the European Cybercrime, NATO Cyber Security Agency, among others. 

Investment capital is a critical requirement for start-ups and business growth. In December 2018, a Dutch Investment group TIIN Capital launched the Tech Security Fund, which focuses on early-stage companies and start-ups active in Cybersecurity and IoT Security solutions. The fund provides early-stage investments from €200k to €1m and for scale-ups from €500k to €2.5m. 

As part of the MSV there is an educational aspect with local market experts on the business landscape, opportunities for companies and understanding the local ecosystem actors. Day 1, the MSV met two of these local stakeholders key to the cybersecurity ecosystem are Innovation Quarter and the Hague Security Delta (HSD). 

Innovation Quarter is the regional economic development agency for the Hague area, similar to a combination of Enterprise Ireland & IDA Ireland. Their mission is to strengthen the regional economic structure by supporting: 1) innovation, 2) investment and 3) internationalisation of the region. 

HSD is the Dutch security cluster, similar to Cyber Ireland, set up in 2013 with over 275 companies, governmental organisations and knowledge institutions. The cluster provides a number of services under the themes of access to knowledge, innovation, market, finance, and talent. The cluster’s goal is to strengthen the Dutch economy, increasing employment rates and making The Netherlands more secure. The competitive advantages of the Dutch cyber security industry show why the Hague is a leading cyber security region in Europe. 

What also makes the HSD and the region unique and gives it a competitive advantage is the HSD Campus, a physical location for the Dutch cybersecurity ecosystem. The HSD Campus, which is funded by the regional government, has three floors which brings together the key stakeholders in the ecosystem, from businesses, government bodies, knowledge institutions and investors as a centre of gravity for the cybersecurity cluster. 

It is the national innovation centre for the Dutch Cybersecurity Ecosystem, with IT labs, education and training facilities, flexible office space and meeting rooms.  

Government and industry work closely together: Innovation Quarter and HSD collaborate to explore opportunties for cyber security to strength other strong sectors of the economy, including Life Sciences, Martime, Finance & Utilities. A recently funded project (€200k) will establish a Cyber Resilience Centre for the Horticulture Sector across the whole supply chain, from seed to exporting food. 

Figure 3: Strong Sectors of the Netherlands and their security challenges. 

Day 2 of the MSV was a visit to TechEx Europe, Amsterdam, a large enterprise technology exhibition and conference. Here the companies walked the floor to understand the companies selling in the BeNeLux market. 

The MSV was of value for the Irish companies looking at a market strategy for the Netherlands to test the waters. There was also learnings from the success of the development of the Dutch Cybersecurity Cluster that can be applied to Ireland: 

  1. Triple-Helix cooperation between industry, knowledge providers and government can accelerate the development of the cluster and address key challenges for industry. In the Netherlands, leadership by government in identifying the cyber security sector as a key sector for growth and providing adequate support to achieve its potential was key. 
  2. A physical location for the cyber security cluster in the HSD Campus brings together the key actors under one roof to facilitate cooperation and collaboration. 
  3. A strong investment landscape and dedicated cyber security fund can foster a start-up ecosystem and rapidly scale companies to compete internationally. 
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