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EIP adds to advisory board

Energy Impact Partners (EIP), a global investment platform leading the transition to a sustainable future, and an active investor in cybersecurity, has added Ramy Houssaini to its advisory board. The BNP Paribas’ chief cyber and technology risk officer, and group privacy officer, will assist EIP’s European team to collaborate with the ecosystem of cybersecurity startups that have the potential to benefit from EIP’s unique investing model, which supports the growth of technology companies by facilitating dedicated industrial partnerships between its portfolio and largely corporate investor base and by providing access to the all-important US market.

Ramy is a leading figure in the security industry with a track record of successful collaboration with both startups and global corporations. He spent two decades in cybersecurity roles at Visa, Accenture and BT. He has also spent the last nine years advising startups on product development and building effective teams. Ramy’s expertise will make him an essential part of the EIP team and critical to discovering burgeoning companies in this growing ecosystem. 

The addition to the team comes following EIP’s first European investment in cybersecurity, Estonian cyber-training provider RangeForce, which has joined EIPs growing portfolio of cutting-edge cybersecurity companies. 

EIP’s activity comes at a time when Europe is taking a greater share of global VC funding for cybersecurity as a new generation of cybersecurity startups on the Continent responds to increasing attacks. 

The UK and France now comprise 10 percent of all venture activity in cybersecurity, on par with Israel, whose expertise in this area has long made it the natural challenger to the US. There are now 1,782 cyber security companies across Europe, which have raised a collective USD3.3 billion in funding, according to data from Crunchbase.

The US retains its dominance over the global cybersecurity market with over 50 percent of all venture funding and M&A activity. Not surprisingly, the US is also in the bullseye of the highest number of target cybersecurity attacks, making up approximately one third of the total.  

However, the UK, which is the second most attacked country in the world over the last 14 years, is creating increasingly important companies. Last year, Sophos was acquired by Thoma Bravo in a USD3.9 billion deal. Meanwhile, seven year-old UK cybersecurity startup Darktrace is targeting a USD3.8 billion IPO in London early in 2021.

France’s security sector is also thriving with 137 cyber-focused startups, according to Wavestone. Several factors have contributed to this increase, including the number of high-quality programmers in the country, the increased attention from the government in the form of the French National Cybersecurity Agency (ANSSI), and the strengthening venture community. The country is producing the next generation cybersecurity innovators, such as applications security management platform, Sqreen, email security provider, Vadesecure, active directory security company Alsid and code security firm, GitGuardian.  

There is still a gap between the availability of private investment in Europe and the United States. The European Cybersecurity Organisation (ESCO) wrote  to Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s Competition Commissioner who took charge of EU digital policy in September. 

In a letter the ESCO  highlighted that: “Europe is still suffering from a private investment gap, estimated at more than EUR4 billion as compared to the United States”. 

To help bridge the divide, ESCO has proposed the creation of a European cybersecurity fund-of-funds of at least EUR1 billion investment to develop the necessary investment structure to support EU cybersecurity entrepreneurs. 

Nazo Moosa, managing partner at EIP, says: “We’re at an interesting moment as Europe’s universities, pharmaceutical companies and critical infrastructure are under increasing attack.  At the same time, European tech entrepreneurs are beginning to innovate as never before.”  

“We’re delighted that Ramy is joining EIP’s advisory board. His deep Cybersecurity leadership experience with global organisations is invaluable when making decisions about which technologies to support and which entrepreneurs to back. France is rapidly moving up the global rankings of countries producing important cybersecurity companies and we are confident that Ramy’s expertise will contribute to establishing EIP as a leading cyber investor.”

Houssaini says: “Cyber security is a key risk for several industries and as the growing surge in infrastructure-related cyber hacks has demonstrated, we’re at a critical moment, especially in the context of digital trade tensions, for new European startups to rise up and offer innovative solutions to make systems more resilient. There are few Europe focused venture capital investors however with the experience to invest in this complex and fragmented part of the technology sector and with a platform to extend the reach of these European companies into the all important US market.”

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