Experts agree the Washington, DC metro area is among the hottest regions for cybersecurity innovation due to the strong presence of federal agencies and increase in security spend.
"This area is home to one of the most densely concentrated cyber workforces in the entire country," says Tenable Network Security CFO Steve Vintz. Part of the reason is because DC's roots are in security. Bodies such as the federal government and NSA contribute to a security-focused culture driving opportunity in the area.
A wealth of talent is driving innovation in the DC region, says Sean Cunningham, managing director at Trident Capital Cybersecurity. This area may have a history of security, but many people leave their government careers to join startups and seed companies, where job opportunities are plentiful.
"The availability of talent and cost of doing business in DC is phenomenally positive," Cunningham continues. "Savvy people coming out of government with incredible experience; that adds instant juice to a startup." This talent can be harnessed and applied to endpoint, cloud, network, IoT; all areas of security ripe for growth, adds Gordon.
The security culture is further strengthened by a plethora of educational institutions, including the University of Maryland, graduating trained cyber talent. Incubators and accelerators in the area such as Mach37 are creating opportunity for people who want to switch their careers into the cybersecurity space. Ackerman describes Maryland's DataTribe as a "startup studio" created to work with technical entrepreneurs and build companies focused on cybersecurity, big data, and analytics. DataTribe brings the added skills many companies need to grow.
"There may be reservoirs of tech talent, but not as much commercial talent or business experience," he says. "Startups don't just emerge; they need commercial DNA to go with it."
It's important to note quality of life also plays a factor in how DC will grow as a security hotspot. An educated workforce, history of innovation, economic opportunity, and job growth make DC a desirable area to live, attracting a larger pool of talent, says Vintz.
The region has been home to several security startups, including NetWitness (acquired by EMC), SourceFire (acquired by Cisco), Mandiant (acquired by FireEye), IronNet Cybersecurity, LookingGlass Cyber Solutions, and CrowdStrike.
Going forward, Gordon anticipates the "center of mass" for cybersecurity innovation will be in DC as more people learn how to build companies, outside investors continue to fund them, and professionals continue to enter the private sector.
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