Cyber security

A global leader in cyber security with the largest market in Europe, the UK provides an exceptional pipeline of talent and investment opportunities.


The UK is recognised as a global leader in cyber security innovation and commerce. The sector has seen significant growth in annual revenue and employment, as well as considerable investment in early-stage companies.

The UK provides significant opportunities for all businesses involved in the industry. The market is diverse, with provisions ranging from cyber professional services to endpoint and mobile security. There’s also government support for growth of early-stage companies and funding for collaborative R&D.

Opportunity highlights

The UK boasts:

Opportunities across sectors

UK cyber security has a diverse range of applications - from financial services, retail and healthcare to connected devices, infrastructure and transport. There are plentiful business opportunities, driven by the rapid growth in the UK and global cyber security markets.

A multitude of companies also provide expertise, in areas ranging from strategic consulting and professional cyber services (PwC, Deloitte) to network security (BT, Telesoft Technologies).

Whether your business is an SME or a large corporation, there’s a place to thrive within the UK market, and a diverse range of services to take advantage of.

Top market for exports

The UK has an impressive reputation for providing trusted cyber security solutions to organisations across the world, with British exports predicted to rise to £3.2 billion by 2023.

UK government and industry is supporting this growth through the Cyber Security Export Strategy, which will help companies based in the UK, regardless of their origin, tap into emerging markets, global finance, and national security operations.

Talent and skills

With almost 50,000 employed across the industry, the UK already boasts a well-developed cyber security sector. As the sector continues to grow, so does the demand for talent. To address this demand, the UK provides over 130 masters programmes in cyber security and various internships, creating a pipeline of specialists to meet growing demand.

This ability is strengthened by a contingent of 19 government-recognised and supported Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSRs). These enhance the quality and scale of cyber security research, and strengthen the link between academic institutions, the government, and business.

Support for early-stage companies

Various incubators and accelerators support early-stage companies in their growth and development, reflecting the UK’s desire to promote and develop the domestic cybersecurity industry.

For example, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) For Start-ups programme offers services for start-ups at all stages of maturity, from companies developing a minimum viable product (MVP), to those with established solutions looking to expand into new markets.

Industry investment

The UK has strong investment from established global cyber companies such as Sophos, BT and Titania. This is combined with support for SMEs and start-ups through the Cyber Growth Partnership.

Further financial support for technology development comes from InnovateUK and UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, including its Secure by Design Challenge.

Specific support for start-ups comes from a range of accelerator programmes such as the London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement (LORCA), CyLon and Betaden, supported by NCSC and GCHQ, the UK government intelligence and security organisation. These programmes solidify the UK’s position as a global leader in cyber security.

Commercial maturity

As of 2020, the sector was worth £8.9 billion. It’s a robust and developed market, forged by the talent and prospects the UK offers, with proven resilience. 2020 was a record year for UK cyber security investment with businesses raising over £821 million across 73 deals.

With more than 1200 early-stage cyber security companies and multiple internationally renowned cyber security clusters, such as Manchester, Gloucestershire, Belfast and South Wales, the UK provides world-class business opportunities. This is bolstered by the support and incentives provided by the government to strengthen growth and innovation in the sector.

Key UK assets

Several regions across the UK are internationally recognised as centres of cyber expertise and growth:


Home to the Government Communications HQ (GCHQ) and the NCSC, Gloucestershire has a number of key assets, including the C11 Cyber Security and Digital Innovation Centre, which provides incubation offices and support for start-ups.

The Golden Valley development will also provide a unique environment to stimulate cyber security innovation, supporting start-ups, SMEs and larger companies.

Northern Ireland

Belfast is the leading destination city globally, for US Foreign Direct Investment in cyber security development projects. Northern Ireland provides specialist university research centres, such as the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queens’ University Belfast, is home to innovative start-ups, and hosts an impressive cluster of international cyber security investors.

The CSIT is globally renowned – a partner of choice for big-name multinationals and a dynamic motor of local growth.

Greater London and South East

London offers a wealth of market opportunities, with 28% of the UK’s cybersecurity firms. This is bolstered by a multitude of universities in the wider London and South-East area, providing the talent pool to meet the vast demand within this sector.


Scotland has a fast-growing digital security sector, with the number of cyber security firms increasing 300% from 2017 to 2019, highlighting the strength of the region.


Wales provides world-class talent, with centres of academic excellence such as the National Cyber Security Academy and the Centre for Cyber Security Research at Cardiff University. It’s also home to significant investment projects, such as the Airbus Cyber Security Centre of Excellence.

Herefordshire and Worcestershire

Hereford is home to the Cyber Quarter – Midlands Centre for Cyber Security project, a £9 million centre of excellence for cutting-edge research and development in this sector. The centre supports businesses by develops their skillsets, and leads in cyber security testing, research and development.


Manchester has nurtured homegrown digital security companies and attracted established cyber divisions of global defence companies, as well as consulting firms. It’s now also home to the newest GCHQ facility, placing the city at the heart of the nation’s cyber security effort.

The region will also be home to the newly created National Cyber Force, at Samlesbury, representing a £5 billion investment.

R&D capability

The UK is an excellent location to conduct research and development in cyber security. It has 19 Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR) recognised by the NCSC and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and more than 130 master’s programmes.

The Knowledge Transfer Network has a dedicated group focused on security. This helps to connect universities with business and investors, fostering creativity and innovation.

Individuals based in a UK academic institution can apply to the only pre-seed accelerator programme in the cybersecurity ecosystem, CyberASAP (Cyber Security Academic Startup Accelerator Programme). This plays a unique and vital role in supporting cyber security innovation and commercialisation.

Financial support to the sector also enhances the UK’s R&D capabilities. The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has announced £700,000 funding to the UK Cyber Cluster Collaboration (UKC3). This will boost cyber security growth across the country, stimulating innovation and supporting cyber skills development.

Business and government support

Alongside the NCSC For Startups programme, localised support helps to foster the creation of new and innovative contributions to the cyber security sector. For example, LORCA (London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement) has helped 72 cyber innovators raise more than £200 million in investment and earn more than £37 million in revenue.

Expanding the talent pool is also a key part of the UK’s goals. The Cyber Skills Immediate Impact Fund seeks to increase the diversity and numbers of those working in the UK’s booming cyber security sector. An example of this work is the UK’s Cyber Neurodiversity Network which supports neurodiverse individuals to work in the sector, in line with the UK’s aim to develop all aspects of the industry.

Expand your business in the UK

Get practical guidance and insights to help you successfully set up in the UK.

Case studies


Nisos, an American threat-intelligence company which has expanded to Belfast, credits Invest Northern Ireland’s support in providing guidance and networking to their business as well as financial assistance, which has enabled Nisos to set up a specialised development centre in Belfast as part of its long-term growth plan.


Cybersmart was created by a group of experts with the aim of making cyber security more accessible. Born out of a GCHQ accelerator in 2017, and a testament to the UK’s incubator and accelerator programmes, the company has achieved tremendous growth of 445% from March 2018 to September 2019.

Brigantia and Hornetsecurity

Hornetsecurity is Europe’s leading email cloud security provider. The company has expanded its presence in the UK through a strategic partnership with cybersecurity distributor Brigantia, helping it to establish a channel distribution strategy in the UK.

Hornetsecurity notes the potential for their innovative cloud security services in the UK, and its partnership with Brigantia reflects the broader market opportunities present in this market.


Auraya gives people the choice to use their voice as a passport, with the technology able to analyse 25 million voiceprint comparisons every minute. The company has chosen Worcestershire as its European headquarters, with CTO Clive Summerfield noting the importance of Worcestershire’s technology cluster, and proximity to industry, in this decision.


Founded in 2000, Boston-based Rapid7 is one of the fastest growing US cyber security companies. The company decided to expand operations to Belfast in 2014. The large cluster of cybersecurity companies in the region, competitive operating costs and access to a highly skilled talent pool encouraged the company to invest in Northern Ireland.


Founded in France, Thales designs and delivers cyber security solutions that protect states, cities and critical infrastructures from emerging cyber threats. With a team of more than 6,500 experts across 9 key UK sites, Thales draws on the vast pool of talent the UK offers, partnering with universities across the country.


Raytheon, an American company, specialises in developing advanced sensors, training, and cyber and software solutions. The company is keen to take advantage of the opportunities present in the UK and has committed to doubling the size of its business in the UK from 2021 to 2026.