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International comparator study of Abertay University’s Cybersecurity offering for Scottish Enterprise


Cybersecurity is a key strength of Abertay University. Key areas of research interest and teaching are ethical hacking and ‘offensive’ cybersecurity. Abertay University is also undertaking some relatively high-profile industry collaboration. The cyberQuarter project aims to build on this research, teaching and industry collaboration activity. This project seeks to grow a Cybersecurity cluster of sufficient density in Scotland. The study aimed to inform the development of Abertay University’s Strategic Outline Case (SOC) by examining UK and international comparator Cybersecurity centres. The report first sets out a baseline of existing Cybersecurity offerings in Abertay and the Tay Cities Region. It then compares the cyberQuarter offer with domestic and international Cybersecurity centres. Finally, it provides an assessment of Cybersecurity projects within other UK City and Growth Deals.


The study consisted of both research and fieldwork, completed between September and November 2017.


When compared with other Cybersecurity centres, Abertay compares well in terms of its research and teaching expertise. Its focus on ‘offensive’ security and Ethical Hacking is a niche specialism, and within this field, it ranks highly. Its expertise is highly regarded by many businesses and law enforcement agencies. Its teaching is strong, and Abertay’s students are judged to be of a very high calibre. However, in comparison to other, more mature and established centres, its range of collaboration and commercialisation activity is limited. For this reason, it does not rank as highly in terms of the broader field of Cybersecurity at present. Abertay’s niche specialism means that it does not duplicate the activity of clusters elsewhere, and this is considered to be a key strength of its offer. In terms of competition, many of the UK clusters and City and Growth Deal projects examined were also seeking to attract Cybersecurity companies. However, Abertay’s current activity was found to present a sound basis on which to develop the cyberQuarter project offer. Abertay was also considered well placed in terms of relationships, geography and the existing digital ecosystem in Dundee to support the development of a Cybersecurity hub.


Some recommendations were made for the ongoing development of the SOC and subsequent stages of the business case for the cyberQuarter project. These relate to two different themes: efforts to better position the proposal to maximise its offer; and enhancing the economic development aspect of the SOC. Specific recommendations include: exploring how the cyberQuarter can match or compete with what is on offer elsewhere; considering how to differentiate the cyberQuarter from other centres; examining the scope for linking the cyberQuarter proposal more formally with other offers in Scotland, suggesting that there is potential for wider collaboration, and the adoption of an integrated, Scotland-wide approach to Cybersecurity development; greater recognition of the role of the cyberQuarter in the creation of high-value jobs; and articulating the critical success factors for the project. It was also suggested that the cyberQuarter and wider Tay Cities Deal may help to address the lack of awareness of Abertay’s work and expertise among some other more established comparator Cybersecurity centres.

Author Ekosgen
Published Year 2017
Report Type Research
  • Business infrastructure
    Supporting key sectors
  • Sectors
    Digital markets and enabling technologies
  • Enterprise
    Support to existing/growth businesses