Successfully Expanding Overseas: Why Ireland for Cybersecurity?


In recent years, Ireland has emerged as a global cybersecurity hub, with high profile international companies like Intel Security, Trend Micro, Malwarebytes, AlienVault, FireEye, SolarWinds and NUIX choosing it as a location for their European operations.

There are a variety of reasons why so many international security companies choose to set up shop in Ireland. Some of the key factors are outlined below.

Safety in Numbers – Ireland's Growing Cybersecurity Ecosystem

As IDA Ireland - the Irish government's inward investment agency - says, "there is safety in numbers".

Approximately 10% of the CyberSecurity 500 have a presence in Ireland. Security companies like Symantec (which set up shop in Ireland in 1991), Forcepoint and Webroot have well-established operations in the capital city, Dublin. Other US security companies including Intel Security, Hortonworks, EMC, Trend Micro, Malwarebytes, Alienvault, FireEye, SolarWinds and NUIX, have chosen to set up operations in Cork, where they co-exist alongside home-grown companies like Trustev (acquired by TransUnion in 2015) and Barricade.io (acquired by Sophos in 2016). In the West of Ireland, Galway is home to TitanHQ and Netfort - two home-grown Irish companies that now appear on the CyberSecurity 500.

Like continues to attract like and, in the last year, we have seen DocuSign announce plans to establish a Cybersecurity Center of Excellence in Dublin. We have also seen Tenable and Cylance announce the establishment of operations in Dublin and Cork respectively.

Access to Talent

Commenting on the establishment of Tenable's international headquarters in Dublin, CEO, Amit Yoran, explained that "it’s only natural we chose Dublin, a city known around the world for its tech talent, as the home of our first international headquarters.”

With over 6,000 people working in the cybersecurity industry in Ireland, the country offers international employers a broad and skilled talent base. Its young workforce is well-educated, ambitious and adaptable (its workforce is ranked first in the world for flexibility and adaptability). The workforce is also increasingly multi-cultural and diverse - for example, at Google's EU headquarters in Dublin, there are employees from over 65 countries, speaking over 45 different languages!

To ensure that that Ireland is well-positioned to meet the growing demand for cybersecurity skills, a number of Irish universities now offer tailored security qualifications – for example, University College Dublin's MSc in Digital Investigation & Forensic Computing and Dublin City University's MSc in Security & Forensic Computing.

There has also been strong collaboration among Irish academic institutions and the international companies that have chosen Ireland as a global base. Canadian cybersecurity company, eSentire (which set up operations in Cork in 2015), has established an annual bursary for Cork Institute of Technology computing students. Similarly, the National College of Ireland (NCI) and IBM have recently announced a joint-initiative which will see IBM employees studying for a NCI certified Higher Diploma in Cybersecurity at the IBM campus in Dublin.

In recognition of its growing cybersecurity ecosystem, Ireland now hosts a number of high profile security conferences, including the annual Cyber Threat Summit and IRISSCON. A number of hackerspaces have also popped up around the country – including Nexus Cork in Cork, 091 Labs in Galway and Dublin City University's Innovation Campus in Dublin. All of these factors combined help to ensure the continued availability of top talent for the cybersecurity sector in Ireland.

Pro-Business Environment

To re-quote IDA Ireland "we favor green lights over red tape". The Irish government, through its various arms, is committed to ensuring there are no barriers to entry for international trade and is continually introducing initiatives to ensure that Ireland is a great place for international companies to do business.

For example, in addition to the provision of financial assistance in certain cases, IDA Ireland offers fantastic logistical and practical support to international companies establishing or expanding their Irish operations. From the provision of practical information on the costs and process involved in set-up to arranging site visits and introductions to peers, they help to make the process of setting-up in Ireland seamless and straight-forward for international companies. Commenting on the establishment of Cylance's Cork office, CEO Stuart McClure noted that "IDA Ireland has been extremely welcoming and we greatly appreciate their expert assistance."

Similarly, from an immigration perspective, the Irish government's Trusted Partner Initiative aims to streamline the process for international companies moving overseas employees to Ireland. Companies that have signed up to the program can avail of a fast-track application process that enables them to obtain work permits for overseas employees in less than two weeks.

On the data privacy side, the Office of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) is known for adopting a practical and transparent approach to EU privacy regulation and is generally recognised as one of the most competent and experienced regulators in Europe. In anticipation of the roll-out of the General Data Protection Regulation in 2018, the ODPC has recently established a dedicated team to work with the major data-driven companies based in Ireland – the only team of its type in the EU. 

The pro-business policies of the Irish government and its agencies are matched by a pro-active, "can-do" attitude among the Irish workforce, with Irish labor productivity being 74% above the EU27 average.

EU Membership and Other Factors

Other key reasons why international cybersecurity companies continue to choose to set up operations in Ireland include the country's competitive and transparent tax regime (including a corporate tax rate of 12.5% on trading profits); its stable and robust legal framework; its cost competitiveness; and, of course, the fact that the country's EU membership offers access to the largest economic bloc in the world. With the UK's exit from the EU pending, Ireland's position as a strategic entry point to the EU will become even more important as Ireland will at that point be the only English-speaking member of the EU common market.

Ireland is also home to the EU headquarters and operations of a significant customer base for cybersecurity companies – from life sciences companies, to global technology companies and data center operators. Following Brexit, this potential client base is set to grow - for example, just last week, Bank of America announced that it has chosen Dublin as the preferred location for its principal legal entities following the UK's departure from the EU. This follows similar announcements from Citigroup, Barclays and Morgan Stanley who have all announced plans to expand their Irish operations in anticipation of Brexit. We may also see a similar trend in the life sciences sector, particularly if Ireland wins its bid to host the European Medicines Agency (the EU regulator for the life sciences industry – currently located in the UK) – which is due to be confirmed later this year.

So, in summary, there are a variety of reasons that, combined, make Ireland a great place for cybersecurity companies to do business. Nikita Shvetsov, CTO of Kapersky Lab, summarized Ireland's value proposition well when announcing the establishment of Kapersky's R&D center in Dublin in 2016:

"Dublin was an obvious choice for the company's first European R&D office, owing to the quality and density of tech talent there, and of course, the city's vibrant and appealing living conditions. Locating the office in Dublin is a great opportunity for us to increase our collaboration with other international IT companies, especially as the city is becoming known as the Silicon Valley of Europe".

With the country's ongoing commitment to the EU, and the Irish government's continued efforts to implement pro-business policies that make Ireland a great place for international companies to do business, the country is well-positioned to continue to attract international cybersecurity companies to its shores and further strengthen its reputation as the Silicon Valley of Europe.

For further information in relation to this topic please contact Gina Conheady.

Date Publihsed: Aug 1 2017