Transitioning to Commercial: What's Next for the Cybersecurity Industry
Cybersecurity is booming in the Baltimore-Washington region, with more than 95,700 filled cybersecurity jobs and 53,500 openings, this region is a true “tech hub,” built on close alliances with defense and other government agencies.
Maryland is first in STEM job creation, first in high-tech’s share of all businesses, second in percentage of professional technical workers and home to 35 incubators and research parks.
Nationwide, the market is growing faster than predicted—in 2013 the global cybersecurity market was estimated at $68 billion, forecast to reach $120 billion by 2017. In 2017, the market reached $138 billion and is projected to grow to $232 billion by 2022. The U.S. attracts most of the $3.5 billion invested annually in cyber, but the worldwide competition is growing.
Cybersecurity seems poised for even greater growth as companies respond to an ever increasing number of cyber threats. Cybercrime Magazine reports that cybercrime “is the greatest threat to companies in the world...and one of mankind’s biggest problems.”
In the Baltimore-DC cyber hub, today’s challenge is transitioning from government contracting to the commercial side of cyber, where innovation and entrepreneurship hold the key to the future. Industry observers see no problem in making this transition.
“If you can solve problems at DOD.... then when you’re tackling large enterprise customers on the commercial side, you have an advantage,” reports Nextgov.com, “The best opportunities for business growth are in the commercial applications of cybersecurity products.”
Mike Janke is co-founder of DataTribe, a startup incubator based in both Maryland and San Francisco. “It’s easy to pivot from government to commercial,” he says. “There are so many businesses that make this area a leader in the non-government field—banking and financial services, academics, healthcare—they all have enormous need for cybersecurity.”
Meeting the Challenge
Finding the solutions to the seemingly overwhelming problems of cybersecurity demands a creative and innovative workforce and a dynamic that is found in start-ups like Tenable Network Security, a Maryland-based cybersecurity company that went public in July.
“Tenable (TENB) closed out its first day of trading up 31.5 percent after jumping 40 percent in its public market debut,” reported CNBC. “It’s an impressive fundraising for cybersecurity IPOs....”
Ron Gula, president and co-founder of Gula Tech Adventures, was CEO of Tenable from 2002 through 2016. “It is imperative that veterans of the cybersecurity industry support this next generation of start-ups,” he says. “In order to maintain and grow our global leadership in cyber, we need to nurture the ‘entrepreneurial ecosystem’ that spurs an innovation economy.”
The State of Maryland agrees. Gula serves on the blue-ribbon steering committee of EXCEL MD., a comprehensive statewide economic development strategy designed to nurture that entrepreneurial ecosystem, with a focus on accelerating growth in the life sciences and cybersecurity industries. Governor Hogan introduced EXCEL in May 2017, and the Steering Committee’s plan for implementation is due this month.
DataTribe’s Mike Janke says, “Three years ago, a brilliant technologist who wanted to start a cybersecurity company in the Baltimore area would have no supporting ecosystem. Today, that technologist could find investors and a reliable network in a friendly ecosystem.”
Resources and Support Systems
The range of resources that Maryland and the Greater Baltimore area offer the cybersecurity industry today are impressive.
Maryland leads the list of states with National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE) programs, which promote higher education and research in cyber security. The program was created by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to recognize schools that offer rigorous programs in information security.
Among the 16 Maryland schools designated by CAE are: Johns Hopkins, Morgan, Towson, and University of Maryland Baltimore County, College Park and UMUC.
Another tool for the local entrepreneurial ecosystem is TEDCO, a state-backed resource for entrepreneurial business assistance and seed funding for startups. TEDCO 2.0 supplements its financial support with an enhanced training program, a “loaned executives” initiative, and partnerships with other resources.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County, bwtech Research and Technology Park—home to a cyber incubator—has more than 130 companies on site, helping start-ups to grow and emerging companies to network.
The Culture Factor
In addition to these vital business supports that make a location attractive, decision makers also consider the “culture” of an area and its appeal to the people who will make the enterprise successful. And here, the Greater Baltimore region scores high marks.
In addition to the cost of living factor—much lower than in D.C. or Northern Virginia—Baltimore, according to the London Standard, “has been dubbed the coolest city on the East Coast after experiencing one of the largest millennial booms in America....” It’s key to the region’s success that young professionals want to locate their fledgling companies here or come here for school and stay after they graduate.
Mike Gill, Maryland’s Commerce Secretary, agrees. Speaking of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s recent performances in the United Kingdom, which his department supported, he told the Baltimore Sun: “We see the cultural aspects of Maryland, and specifically Baltimore, as a significant part of the economic development story that we tell.”
With the state fully behind the transition to commercial, the available talent and resources, and a location already populated with businesses that are vulnerable targets for cybercrime and intrusion, the pieces are falling into place to cement the region’s global leadership position in the cyber industry.
Notes Mike Janke of DataTribe, “We’re beginning to see a clear, concise answer to the question, ‘Why Maryland?’”