As cybersecurity becomes more of an imperative for individuals and organizations, several regions in the US are investing money and efforts in security innovation.
Silicon Valley may be the most famous hotspot for tech innovation in the country, but it's far from the only place driving cybersecurity advancement. Areas such as the Washington, DC region and the Boston metro area are home to a growing number of security startups and incubators.
There are several factors that contribute to making an area a hotbed for security innovation, explains Rick Gordon, managing partner at cybersecurity startup accelerator Mach37. Some critical elements include availability of seed capital and educational institutions generating new talent.
"Cyber is an area where innovation is built and based on extent of experience and knowledge," says Bob Ackerman, founder of cybersecurity venture capital firm Allegis Capital. The technology is deep, and the ability to develop and apply it requires a lot of experience.
The problem is, the industry is struggling with a shortage of skilled security engineers, he continues. Regions are trying to fill the gap by building programs to graduate more skilled graduates and using technology to increase the productivity of existing engineers.
Many colleges and universities have begun to respond to the shortage in engineering talent by expanding their curricula to include cybersecurity. UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, Carnegie Mellon, MIT, and Georgia Tech are among institutions fueling tech innovation with trained graduates.
Even in regions known for technological innovation, it can be difficult for security startups to succeed because they need more than tech talent to achieve growth. Oftentimes, tech talent moves to areas where business expertise and a strong venture capital ecosystem will support innovation.
For this reason, security businesses have begun to emerge in regions where they have access to capital, skills, and opportunities needed to grow. These regions are primarily located on the east and west coasts of the US, but some have begun to pop up in the south and the middle of the country.
"Cybersecurity is an area driven by nonstop innovation," explains Ackerman. "The half-life of cybersecurity is one of the shortest in IT. We focus on these regions because in cybersecurity, if you're going to compete, you have to have a solid foundation to start. You can't pick it up as you go."
Here, we spotlight some regions across the US driving innovation in the cybersecurity space through factors like education, accelerators, and other support for entrepreneurs and startups looking to grow.