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Starting-up Europe’s cybersecurity excellence: The investment challenge

Activities & Initiatives

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The European Commission has recognised cybersecurity as one of the vital fields that needs immediate actions at European level. With our society being dependent on IT systems and everything being interconnected through the Internet, vulnerabilities, hacks and breaches are around the corner to disrupt our everyday actions. For this reason, having strong and trusted European-based cybersecurity solutions in place is the key to building an autonomous and competitive cybersecurity market, and in this context, SMEs and start-ups have play a crucial role.



“Faced with the "technological war" being waged by the United States and China, Europe must now lay the foundations of its sovereignty for the next 20 years. It is not a question of giving in to the temptation of isolation or withdrawal into oneself, which is contrary to our interests, our values and our culture. It is a question of making choices that will be decisive for the future of our fellow citizens by developing European technologies and alternatives, without which there can be neither autonomy nor sovereignty.” - Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market.


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the European Union’s economy. They represent 99% of all businesses in the EU and employ around 100 million people. They also account for more than half of Europe’s GDP and play a key role in adding value in all sectors of the EU economy . The cybersecurity market is one of the fastest growing and more strategic markets in the world, and with cybersecurity technology changing rapidly, only the SMEs and start-ups, due to their agility, can provide the cutting-edge solutions needed to remain competitive. However, these businesses often lack of capital to be invested in marketing and business development, whereas the EU market faces a lack of private capital risk and investors in cybersecurity domain.


To tackle this issue, ECSO has launched two matchmaking initiatives for cybersecurity investors, SMEs and start-ups: the ECSO Cyber Investor Days and the European Cybersecurity STARtup Award.


ECSO Cyber Investor Days and European Cybersecurity STARTup Award: promoting European excellence


ECSO's European Cybersecurity STARtup Award aims to increase the awareness and visibility of state-of-the-art cybersecurity companies in Europe, both at European and global level. The Award leverages ECSO's Cyber Investor Days, a well-established cybersecurity business matchmaking event, and similar events organised by ECSO’s partner organisations to create an initiative recognising the most promising European cybersecurity start-ups and SMEs.


Thanks to the yearly European Cybersecurity STARtup Award competition, SMEs and start-ups can pitch their ideas and network with experts and investors across Europe.



The FIC STARtup Award


Making Europe a strong, independent and competitive global cybersecurity player requires joining forces to support these businesses. Together with FIC and Atos, ECSO is glad to bring the European Cybersecurity STARTup Award to Lille and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the cybersecurity sector.


Start-ups participating will compete to win a mentoring opportunity, as well as a one-year subscription to the CYBERSECURITY MADE IN EUROPE Label, and will be evaluated by a jury consisting of end-users, investment funds, representatives of ANSSI and the Ministries of Interiors and of the Armed Forces.


If you are attending FIC and wish to meet them, join us from the 7th to the 9th of June 2022 in Lille, France to #InvestCyber!


Will you be the next STARtup? Join our next events!


Start-ups and SMEs wishing to compete in the European Cybersecurity STARtup Award must first apply to ECSO’s Cyber Investor Days and pitch their product and/or solution to a local jury of investors. The upcoming Cyber Investor Days are organised in Germany on the 2nd May, Barcelona (Spain) on the 12th May and in Katowice (Poland) on the 17th and 18th May.


Women4Cyber STARtup Award


ECSO and the Women4Cyber Foundation have joined forces to give recognition to the cybersecurity companies founded or co-founded by women and/or to the companies with at least 50% female employees. The Women4Cyber STARtup Award will be given to the female-led company, selected by the jury for the ECSO’s Cyber Investor Days and ECSO’s Cybersecurity STARtup Award. Find all details in the application form.