Ireland’s cybersecurity coast: what you need to know

31 Oct 2019508 Views

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Ireland’s west coast is home to some hotshots in the cybersecurity world.

With growing hubs in the likes of Galway and Shannon, Ireland’s west coast has become home to a thriving cybersecurity and information security sector, with a healthy mix of massive organisations and fledgling start-ups.

But which firms are the area’s major players, which are the up-and-comers to keep an eye on and, perhaps even more importantly, what is it about the west that has proven so attractive?

International and indigenous hubs

Many massive companies, some of which have already been mentioned during Siliconrepublic.com’s month-long spotlight on Ireland’s ‘silicon coast’, have cybersecurity represented on Ireland’s west coast. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and its various off-shoots such as DXC, have a significant presence in Galway.

“The HPE cyber team in the Republic of Ireland is one of the biggest centres of cybersecurity excellence the company has,” Joanne O’Connor, cybersecurity training manager at HPE, explains.

Other multinationals such as Fidelity Investments, Storm Technology and IBM have been consistently growing their cybersecurity teams in Galway in recent years, while nearby Shannon is home to Intel’s centre of excellence for cloud and network computing. Rapid7, a US security analytics firm, has also entered the region after acquiring Galway tech firm NetFort earlier this year for an amount reported to be north of €10m.

‘There are so many great multinationals and home-grown companies offering roles across engineering, cloud, data analytics, AI and more’
– JOHN TALLON

Amid this activity, a number of Irish-born firms have ascended to international recognition, such as Altocloud, which was founded by Barry O’Sullivan, Joe Smyth and Dan Arra and was acquired by Silicon Valley software firm Genesys in 2018; and Galway-headquartered Titan.

John Tallon, practice director and Galway site lead for Storm Technology, notes that the change in the Atlantic technology scene has been quite rapid.

“I remember when searching for my first job back in 2001, going through the Galway Advertiser and at that time there were nowhere near the range of opportunity or avenues to go and try out,” he says. “Today, there are so many great multinationals and home-grown companies offering roles across engineering, cloud, data analytics, AI and more.”

Emerging industry stars

Yet just because there is a significant presence from large organisations doesn’t mean there isn’t room for smaller start-ups to blossom, too. “There are several newer exciting companies based in Galway that are doing amazing work in the cyber space,” O’Connor continues. “To name a few we have CyberScout, Siren, HID Global, ActionPoint and Intuity.”

O’Connor notes that the “value proposition” is extremely strong in the region, benefitting from a strong talent pool supported by institutions such as NUI Galway and GMIT.

She also mentions the friendliness of the area – not just in terms of its people, but in terms of how businesses interact with one another and collaborate. “The Galway cyber ecosystem is becoming increasingly close knit.”

‘Galway lets a small company’s spending go much further whilst still employing the right type of skilled employee’
– ROBERT MCFEELY

SME cybersecurity firm Octiga, headed up by HPE alumnus Dr Robert McFeely, has emerged as a true one-to-watch in the area. He attributes part of the company’s success to how amenable a location like Galway is for smaller businesses.

“Galway is a balance for us. Just as the city balances small town lifestyle with big town tech market, we at Octiga needed to balance skills availability, location, costs and culture.

“Starting in Dublin would provide the proximity to many things, but also the added burdens of high costs on a small company.  Galway lets a small company’s spending go much further whilst still employing the right type of skilled employee.”

In many ways, the enduring appeal of the area is, John Tallon concludes, ineffable. “Everyone tends to agree that there is a little je ne c’est quoi about Galway. A charm and appeal that everyone knows and tends to agree upon, but no one can quite put their finger on what it is. A city steeped in culture and art, with a sense of community quite unlike any other city, Galway has long attracted students, innovators and creators.

“This culture has, when combined with the strong academic roots of the city, created a rich talent pool making it a hub for both start-ups and multinational investment alike.”

Eva Short is a Journalist at Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com