The financial services industry (FSI) and its engagement with cybersecurity startups offers key insights into how the Department of Defense (DoD), including the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), can bolster its own engagement with this startup community. As the DoD continues to pursue the development and implementation of next-generation information technology solutions, several current practices by the financial sector are applicable to the DoD and provide practical guidance for improving its engagement strategy.  

This report analyzed the practices of Globally Systemic Important Banks and other large financial institutions to best gauge the financial services industry’s current practices for working with cybersecurity startups. The Capstone team examined the cybersecurity startup community’s relationship with both the FSI and the DoD through nine interviews with industry leaders. Current DoD regulatory requirements and barriers to entry affecting engagement with the cybersecurity community are discussed as well. The team made several recommendations to the DoD and NSIN for improving their engagement strategy: 

  • Increase the Department of Defense’s visibility with enhanced commercial outreach and marketing, in particular at trade shows and startup fairs,;
  • Expand the DoD’s public-private partnership using Maryland’s Defense Cybersecurity Assistance Program as a starting model;
  • The Department of Defense Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and possibly NSIN, could create and publish support material explaining available pipelines for cyber startups to work with their network and the DoD at large. 

These summarize the report’s endorsement of more defense-focused professional events and networking, streamlined partnership processes with different funding programs, dynamic public relations campaigns and dissemination of clearer points-of-contact information.