ENISA 4th Industry event aims to stimulate cybersecurity SMEs and access to funding mechanisms
March 2017 by ENISA
On 17th March 2017 ENISA organized its 4th industry event in Brussels.
The primary goal of this first event in 2017 was to engage the SME community operating in the cybersecurity domain on best practices and measures to ensure understanding and access to appropriate funding mechanisms, including both public sector funding (such as Horizon 2020, cPPP (contractual public-private partnership) and ECSO initiatives) and private sector funding (such as venture capital and crowdfunding).
ENISA’s Head of Core Operations, Dr Steve Purser explained: “The objective of this year’s event is to jointly define clear and accessible actions and possible next steps that will contribute to developing the full potential of SMEs representing the EU cyber industry. Working with an array of public and private players it is critical to enhance the level of understanding cybersecurity innovators such as SMEs have, in terms of funding mechanisms”.
One of the identified challenges of setting up a robust cyber security industry in the EU, concerns the difficulties European based SMEs face to enter and exploit existing funding mechanisms.
ENISA along with representatives from DG Connect, DG GROW, DG Region, ESCO and the private sector discussed this challenge with an audience composed primarily of EU based SMEs with the aim to identify pragmatic solutions. The event addressed private and public funding of innovative cybersecurity solutions in an effort to close the gap between the innovative strength derived from outwards looking enterprises and financial support provided by public and private funding mechanisms.
Different solutions such as venture capital, corporate mentoring, geographical clustering, and innovative means of funding were addressed in an attempt to identify the most profitable steps forward.
Innovative industry in network and information security is often hampered in its efforts to scale up operations due to a perceived lack of readily available funding to support them in the early phases of development. In 2015 a survey revealed that 75% of respondents to a public consultation on cybersecurity felt they lacked sufficient access to financial resources to finance cybersecurity projects and initiatives. 
Some conclusions of the event were:
– There is a lack of EU financing instruments of disruptive product development initiatives introduced by SMEs. Perhaps the funding instruments presented during the event by DG GROWTH and REGIO may help to this direction. ENISA could potentially play the role of the broker for European SME is seek of EU funding providing them with advice and guidance.
– EU funding should not only be restricted to the development of innovative technologies but extend to cover also the implementation and use of innovative technologies.
– Europe needs a blueprint concept of a secure architecture for Europe. There is the need to map the technologies that are available in Europe that fit the blueprint. ENISA may play the role of best practices collection point.
– Certification may prove to be an opportunity or an economic impediment to European SMEs.
– The introduction of a labelling scheme was considered by some participants as of importance to the viability of SMEs in Europe.
– Government procurement may be an opportunity for European SMEs. It is often the case that cyber security is only a part of a larger public tender making it difficult in such a context for a European SME specialising on Network and Information Security (NIS) to apply.
– SME success stories if defined in terms of EU market digital sovereignty are quite low.