As the Digital Economy Thrives, Opportunities Arise for Cybersecurity Companies in the Netherlands

21 Jul 2021
Author: InnovationQuarter
Joris den Bruinen (director HSD)
To stay ahead as the world transforms under the influence of new technologies and global challenges, the Netherlands’ world-leading industries are digitalizing at full speed. Driven by the triple helix approach, which the Dutch have successfully embraced, government organizations and research institutes in our region are joining forces with the major industries to align the efforts required to design a smarter, cleaner and healthier future.

The urgency to defend the Information and Operational Technologies within our industries and government is high. The world relies on these companies for food security, transport, health and wealth. Moreover, we rely on the sovereignty of our government for our safety, freedom and prosperity.



Securing digital infrastructures

Greater Rotterdam – The Hague is home to highly reputable and globally operating industries such as the maritime and port industrywater managementhorticulturelife sciences & healthenergy and manufacturing. Built upon one of the world’s most advanced digital infrastructures and powered by our digitally savvy workforce, digitalization within these industries is changing the structure and key assets of the businesses they compound. Cybersecurity budgets range from 3% to 11% or more of the total IT budget and are raised year after year. Dependencies and risks move from standalone to interlinked networks penetrating entire value chains across the globe and merging the physical and digital world. Meanwhile, cybercrime continues to grow as digitalization increases: in 2020 the damage of phishing and spoofing in the Netherlands was 5 times bigger than in 2019, peaking at € 39.5 million.


Joris den Bruinen, General Director at the Dutch Security Cluster HSD: “These numbers confront us with the necessity for a strong cybersecurity cluster, with solid capabilities and resilient companies. The diversity of industries in our region creates opportunities for cybersecurity companies to diversify their client portfolio, which is a major driver for accelerating product innovation and making their business more resilient.”


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Joris continues: “HSD, as the central hub for the digital security community, can play an active role in connecting companies with the various cybersecurity initiatives that are set up within the key industries in the Netherlands. The Netherlands as a whole welcomes a diverse portfolio of high-quality cybersecurity products and services as it benefits from resilient companies and their highly skilled talent.”


A leading cybersecurity community   

Several cybersecurity capabilities of Dutch government and international bodies are settled in the greater The Hague region. For example, the Dutch intelligence services (AIVD),Defense Cyber Command, Netherlands Forensics Institute (NFI), European Cyber Crime Center (Europol) are among the world’s best and have played a significant role in fighting various cases of cybercrime around the world.


And our country has a high density of (internationally operating) cybersecurity companies as well, cultivating a passionate community of cybersecurity professionals which is intrinsically motivated to innovate and push technologies within the industry to a higher level. In the quest of expanding the available expertise, international companies are welcomed to join the Dutch cybersecurity community and contribute to the discussions.


Government stimulation for cybersecurity

Various initiatives are in place, some of which are instituted by the Dutch government, to create awareness and offer cybersecurity support to the many SME’s that comprise a significant portion of our major industries. One of the initiatives at national level is the creation of the Digital Trust Center. One of their activities is to support local and regional branch related cyber resilience networks. Hereby two regional examples.


After a cyber-attack with an estimated damage of € 300 to € 450 million shut down the Maersk Rotterdam APM terminal for a week, Port of Rotterdam started FERM, an initiative to increase cyber resilience at SMEs in the Port. Another example is a collaborative initiative by HSD and Greenport West Holland supports the horticulture community with securing their IT and OT systems.


The Cybersecurity industry works together in trade organisation ‘Cyberveilig Nederland’ (cyber-secure Netherlands) and network organisation HSD. Through these organisations, the industry acts as an advisor on cybersecurity issues for the Dutch government, which is highly aware of our dependency on digital systems and the vulnerabilities this generates. The highest public-private advisory board, the Cyber Security Council, stressed that the government must invest at least € 833 million extra in cyber resilience in the next four years.


Creating awareness

Joris: “What we see at SMEs in the Netherlands right now is that they are innovating and digitalizing at such a high pace to stay ahead of the fierce competition on the global market, and that this alone is a complex and time-consuming process. Consequently, the security of their systems unfortunately doesn’t always make it to the top of their priority lists”. That is why initiatives such as the collaboration with Greenport Westland are established; to raise awareness of the risks accompanied by insufficiently secured IT and OT-systems and to push cybersecurity to the top of mind of SME’s.


This is a necessary foundation to develop solid cyber defence structures within these companies. A naturally subsequent step in the process is to match SME-problem owners with the cybersecurity community so they can explore potential collaboration and business opportunities. HSD is ideally positioned to facilitate this matchmaking.


as the digital economy thrives opportunitis arise for cybersecurity companies


HSD: the central meeting point of the Dutch (cyber)security cluster

HSD is the central point of gravity in the Dutch cybersecurity ecosystem. It orchestrates collaboration around substantive cybersecurity themes. As a network partner, HSD connects problem owners, (academic) experts and companies with the most relevant expertise around emerging issues, ideas and research results. “We are the central point of contact for (cyber)security issues. We know the needs of the Dutch government; we know the vulnerabilities in the digital systems in the major industries and we know the cybersecurity community from the inside and out” says Joris. “As such, we are perfectly positioned to be the linking pin between the relevant parties around emerging cybersecurity issues” he continues.

HSD was founded in 2012 by a triple-helix consortium of 10 organisations and has grown ever since to 275+ partners within the cluster.  HSD Office provides its partners access to knowledge, innovation, talent, finance & capital and international markets.


Joris: “Cultivating our (cyber)security community is of major strategic importance for the sovereignty of our critical infrastructures, our industry and our country. That is why HSD is committed to facilitating cybersecurity companies in our network with the development and growth of their business. We do this by organizing gatherings in various forms, centered around substantive themes. In our sector, in-depth discussions about technology issues often result in explorations of potential business partnerships. This leads to more business for cybersecurity companies, and a more secure society.“


Read the article also on the website of InnovationQuarter 


HSD Partners involved

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