The Cyber Beltway’s Innovation Dislocation

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the AGC Partners “Disruption: Innovation at the Edge of Cybersecurity” event in Las Vegas.  My panel explored how cybersecurity entrepreneurs become inspired to innovate and what dislocations are preventing them from disrupting the cybersecurity marketspace.  As I thought about what ingredients are required to insert disruptive concepts into the current market, it occurred to me that within the Northern Virginia, Fort Meade and DC Metropolitan “Cyber Beltway,” the problem is something beyond a lack of creative inspiration.

On the contrary, at MACH37 I see at least three new product ideas a week coming from young entrepreneurs, members of the intelligence community, small cybersecurity services companies, university researchers and FFRDCs located within the Cyber Beltway.  To be sure, cybersecurity companies operating in the Cyber Beltway enjoy privileged insights into the cyber threat landscape.    These companies often support the offensive side of cyber operations, have an intelligence analysis DNA, have been doing big data since before it was called big data and enjoy unique access to the intellectual property derived from thousands of classified and unclassified incident response and remediation activities.  Individuals working within these companies know better than most how the cyber threat operates and how to rapidly collect and analyze artifacts to discover a cybersecurity breach within an enterprise network.

However, in spite of this treasure trove of intellectual property, we aren’t seeing the conveyor belt of disruptive cybersecurity products entering the market from this region that we should expect.  Why is that?

While our region’s cybersecurity technologists are filled with creative ideas, the ecosystem forces downstream from their creative genius are undermining their ability to disrupt the market.  In general, their innovations:

·      Are driven out of academic curiosity rather than emerging market need

·      Lack the entrepreneurial sponsorship required to build a viable business case for the innovative concept

·      Lack the financial backing necessary to deliver, support and take to market an enterprise-worthy solution

Over the next several blog posts, I intend to explore the dislocations in our local ecosystem.  My hypothesis is that none of these are terminal and that we at MACH37, with the help of others in the industry, can positively address the current gaps and create an environment that not only fosters the creation of potentially disruptive cybersecurity concepts, but also supports the many other, perhaps more practical, ingredients required to bring positive disruption to the cybersecurity market.

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