Record year for UK’s £8.9 billon cybersecurity sector

New report shows almost 50,000 people are now employed in UK cybersecurity; sector contributed more than £4 billion to the economy, attracting £800 million of investment

Posted 18 February 2021 by Christine Horton

The UK’s growing cyber industry attracted record investment last year despite the global pandemic, according to a new government report.

With COVID-19 forcing more business and social activity online, the new figures reveal an increase in the number of cybersecurity companies and people working for them, as the government continues its drive to build back safer from the pandemic.

The DCMS Annual Cyber Sector Report, which tracks the UK’s cybersecurity industry across a range of indicators between April 2019 and December 2020, reveals a 21 percent increase in firms operating in the field, bringing the total number to 1,483. 

There was a nine percent rise in employment in the industry with more than 3,800 new full time jobs created, bringing the total number of people working in the sector to 46,683.

The sector is now worth an estimated £8.9 billion, with a record £800 million of investment raised by firms. 

“The need for cutting-edge cybersecurity has never been greater and this resilient sector is growing, diversifying and solidifying its status as a jewel in the UK’s tech crown,” said Digital Minister Matt Warman.

“With more than 3,800 new jobs created, firms – large and small – are doing vital work keeping people and businesses secure online so we can build back safer from the pandemic. I am committed to supporting the industry to reach new heights, create more jobs and lead new innovations in this field.”

Record year

The report found that despite the current economic climate, 2020 was a new record year for cybersecurity investment with UK cybersecurity businesses raising more than £821 million across 73 deals – more than twice that raised in 2019.

The sector’s total annual revenue has continued to rise (by seven percent), reaching £8.9 billion within the most recent financial year. It contributed more than £4 billion to the economy – up six percent in the last year, with mainly mature firms driving growth

Most (65 percent) of the 46,683 cyber workforce are employed by large firms (250+ employees).

This year’s survey also suggests that more than half of firms (54 percent) are now based outside of London and the South East, with cybersecurity clusters flourishing across the country in areas such as Scotland, Northern Ireland and North West England.

The most commonly provided cybersecurity products and services include cyber professional services, threat intelligence, monitoring, detection and analysis. The research highlights particular growth in firms offering solutions for industrial control systems and IoT security, demonstrating the sector’s ability to adapt and meet emerging challenges, such as the need to secure smart cities. 

The data reveals that while nine in ten companies (89 percent) felt COVID-19 had impacted their business, many of these firms have quickly adjusted and innovated within the current economic climate.