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Speech by Saj Huq at the RSA Conference 2020 //02.03.20

Saj Huq

LORCA co-hosted a drinks reception with the Department for International Trade during the RSA Conference 2020, and our programme director Saj Huq opened the evening with a speech about the importance of global collaboration and LORCA’s role as a convenor. Here is his speech in full.

Ladies and gentlemen: it’s a huge honour for us to support this event alongside the Department for International Trade (DIT), and a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak to you all about what we do at LORCA.

My name is Saj Huq and I’m the programme director at the London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement.

Over the next few minutes, I wanted to outline what our mission at LORCA is and why it’s so important for us to be here in the US.

LORCA is a unique collaboration between the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport, Plexal, CSIT and Deloitte.

Our mission is to operate at the heart of the UK cyber innovation ecosystem, supporting the most promising innovators to scale and in turn enabling the UK’s cyber sector as a whole to reach its full potential.

We do that in three key ways. We act as a market maker between industry and innovators, a landing pad into the UK market and a launchpad into global markets.

So what do we mean by being a market maker? Well, we work with industry to understand their needs for cyber innovation and characterise the big problems they’re facing both now and in the future.

And we work with innovators to orientate their products and solutions towards those needs, helping them to achieve a better product-market fit, reach their full commercial potential and scale.

Through our innovation programme over the past 19 months, we’ve supported 55 companies in total. Those companies have collectively raised almost £90m and created in excess of 100 jobs. But most importantly, they’ve brought some truly game-changing products and services to market which have the potential to truly change the face of cybersecurity.

Secondly, I mentioned our role as a landing pad. Why is that so important? Well, as UK market players, our companies find themselves in a great position – both physically and economically – when it comes to accelerating their growth and taking their businesses to that next level.

The UK cyber market is booming, and this was underlined by a recent DCMS led report that our partner CSIT co-authored. The report illustrated that since an initial baseline measurement was undertaken in 2017, there’s been a 44% growth the number of cyber firms active in the UK – equivalent to a new cyber business being registered in the UK every week.

That’s against a backdrop of an increase in Gross Value Added to the UK, which equates to more than £3.7bn – an incredible 60% increase over the past two years.

Finally, there’s increasing capital coming into the UK ecosystem. 2019 was a record year for cybersecurity investment, with almost £350m in fundraising across 80 deals. And over the past four years, total investment in the UK cybersecurity sector has passed the £1bn mark. All these statistics serve to underline the size and scope of market opportunity for UK and international companies.

Finally, what’s our role as a launchpad?

Well, put simply the digital economy is borderless and we need to go global to fully maximise the potential of our community, cause ripples in the market by serving strategic needs and, ultimately, create the next generation of category leaders in our field. And this is where our relationship with the DIT becomes so pivotal to that intent.

The UK has a target to achieve £2.6bn worth of exports by 2021. And its through missions such as these that we help our companies to access new markets, win new customers and fully scale into global businesses.

We also do this by leveraging LORCA’s global network – which includes partners in San Francisco, New York City, Austin and Tel Aviv – to act as a multi-directional enabler for SMEs and, ultimately, make it easy for them to seek and tap into the global growth opportunity.

So I wanted to say thank you to a few key organisations to helping us achieve these aims.

Thank you to DCMS for partnering with us on such an important mission and to the DIT for supporting us and our community as we expand our presence globally.

Thank you specifically to Andrew Whittaker, British Consul General here in San Francisco, for hosting us this week, as well as Beth, Naia, Michael, Helen and the whole of the team for bringing this week’s programme together.

Thank you to our corporate partners: Lloyds Banking Group, Dell Technologies, the Global Cyber Alliance, Kudelski Security and Kx for leading the way in cyber innovation within the UK.

And finally, thank you to our innovators for your vision, ambition and determination to be at the forefront of an industry that is increasingly critical to all.

I hope you enjoy the evening.