IDA and CIT champion new ‘Cyber Ireland’ infosec cluster

13 Dec 2018

From left: Dónal Travers, IDA Ireland; Dr Eoin Byrne, CIT; and Victoria Mackechnie, IDA Ireland. Image: Maxwells

Could ambitious endeavour make Ireland the Fort Knox of infosec?

IDA Ireland and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) have joined forces on an initiative to establish Cyber Ireland, a national cybersecurity cluster.

Cyber Ireland will provide a collective voice to represent the needs of the cybersecurity sector across the country and will address key challenges including skills needs, research, and the development of a national community that connects industry, academia and government.

‘The cybersecurity industry in Ireland is growing at an unprecedented rate and we believe Ireland is uniquely placed to benefit from increased global investment to position itself as a world-class cybersecurity cluster’

Communications Minister Richard Bruton, TD, said that there are already more than 6,000 people employed in cybersecurity in Ireland, “but there is considerable potential for further growth, particularly with the potential of areas like cloud computing”.

He said: “Today’s announcement of a national cybersecurity cluster is a really exciting opportunity. Supported by Cork IT and backed by Government funding, this initiative will greatly advance the sector in Ireland by facilitating greater collaboration between the companies involved.

“Cyber Ireland will also provide a collective voice for the sector and will provide an avenue for challenges facing the sector to be addressed. Overall, the establishment of the cluster will result in a better cybersecurity response for the State and better outcomes for the companies involved,” Minister Bruton added.

Locking down an incredible opportunity in infosec

IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan explained that Ireland has become a significant base of international technology and cybersecurity companies thanks to a growing, well-educated and flexible workforce with a rapidly increasing graduate output.

“The cybersecurity industry in Ireland is growing at an unprecedented rate and we believe Ireland is uniquely placed to benefit from increased global investment to position itself as a world-class cybersecurity cluster.”

Cyber Ireland is also supported by a number of leading cybersecurity and technology firms in Ireland that called for the establishment of such a cluster, including Johnson Controls International, Dell EMC, IBM, McAfee, McKesson and Trend Micro.

“We are seeing a profound transformation in our digital lives and environment,” explained Donal Sullivan, vice-president and general manager of Johnson Controls.

“The security of connected objects and cyberphysical systems, advances brought about by artificial intelligence, or data-centric security are three examples of major challenges and opportunities. To ensure the continued growth, sustainability and international competitiveness of cybersecurity firms in Ireland, there is a need to support industry and address certain challenges. Cyber Ireland provides a unique opportunity to coordinate the many organisations involved in cybersecurity in Ireland and position the country as a global leader.”

From 18 to 20 February 2019, CIT will hold a series of cluster initiation workshops in Cork, Dublin and Galway. The objective of these workshops is to develop a robust, collaborative mandate that will strengthen Ireland’s cybersecurity ecosystem.

“For Cyber Ireland to be successful, it needs to be industry-driven, supported by third-level education and Government,” said Dr Eoin Byrne, a senior researcher at CIT who will lead and manage the development of the cluster.

“Without the cooperation of these three pillars, the cluster cannot reach its full potential. Industry must be at the core of the cluster, which needs to be championed by passionate and dedicated leaders. Academia is also critical in addressing the skills and training needs of industry. We look forward to engaging with industry and academia across Ireland in the coming months to develop a programme that is in line with international best practice in cluster development based on key learnings from successful cluster initiatives elsewhere in Europe.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years