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February 19, 2021

UK’s £8.9bn cyber security sector sees record investment in 2020

The UK’s £8.9bn strong cyber security sector has seen record investment in 2020 despite the Covid-19 global pandemic wreaking havoc across industries, says the DCMS Annual Cyber Sector Report.

The need for cutting-edge cyber security has never been greater. Credit: Michael Dziedzic/Unsplash

As the pandemic pushed most businesses and social activity into cyberspace, the new data found a rise in the number of cyber security companies.

Tracking the UK’s cyber security industry between April 2019 and December 2020, The DCMS government report revealed total of 1,483 firms operating in the field; a 21% rise. Employment rose by 9% in the industry, bringing the total workforce in the sector to 46,683.

Digital Minister Matt Warman announced the observations at the 18th February CyberASAP event.

Commenting before the virtual event, Digital Minister Matt Warman said: “The need for cutting-edge cyber security has never been greater and this resilient sector is growing, diversifying and solidifying its status as a jewel in the UK’s tech crown.

“With more than 3,800 new jobs created, firms – large and small – are doing vital work keeping people and businesses secure online so we can build back safer from the pandemic.”

The report highlights 2020 as a record year for cyber security investment, as UK cyber security firms raised over £821mn from 73 deals – over double that amassed in 2019. Continuing to rise, at the rate of 7%, the sector’s total annual revenue touched £8.9bn. The report also puts the cyber security sector’s contribution to the UK economy at over £4bn – an increase of 6% from the previous year. About 54% of the UK firms are now based across the country and not just London, with cyber security clusters observed to be thriving in places such as North West England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

techUK CEO Julian David said: “Reliable Cyber Security is essential for all organisations as they accelerate digital transformation in the wake of ongoing Covid-19 disruption and the UK industry is responding to that need. This research shows a sector going from strength to strength, with increasing investment in our growing cyber ecosystem.

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“One key finding is that 54% of cyber companies are now based outside London and the South-East, an encouraging change which will improve cyber resilience across all the nations and regions of the UK, as well as sharing the economic prosperity offered by this fast-growing sector. This regional development is one area which techUK will continue to actively partner with DCMS, through initiatives like Cyber Exchange, as Government and industry continue to strengthen the UK’s position as a leading cyber nation.”

Despite pandemic pressure, many firms in the sector managed to offer vital technical support to critical national services such as the NHS.

Quorum Cyber of Edinburgh fortified cyber defences of the NHS and local councils while creating several skilled jobs during the pandemic. Background check service firm SureCert, with offices in London, Belfast and Edinburgh, helped in the rapid deployment of hundreds of Covid volunteers.

SureCert Founder and CEO Ian Savage said: “SureCert won one of the TechForce 19 competitions from NHSx in May. This competition provided funding for solutions that could find, background check and deploy hundreds of volunteers to support vulnerable people in communities across Scotland and Northern Ireland. SureCert focused on processing identity, reference and criminal record checks for volunteers, maximising trust during the pandemic.”

Quorum Cyber managing director Federico Charosky said: “Quorum Cyber have been incredibly lucky to be in a position to help, both directly and indirectly. Whether it was through providing cyber security services to the public and private sector, including delivering Security Operation Centre and Incident Response capabilities to local authorities and the NHS, or by hiring well over 25 people since the beginning of lockdown, including taking three graduate apprentices. Quorum Cyber continues to pursue our mission: we want to help good people win.”

While the government continues to support cyber security startups through the LORCA cyber accelerator and the NCSC Accelerator programmes, it has also aided innovation-based UK startups during the coronavirus outbreak with a £1.25bn support package.

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