N.M. firms find a lucrative niche [Albuquerque Journal, N.M.]By Kevin Robinson-Avila, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Dec. 17--Many homegrown New Mexico businesses are finding a lucrative niche in the cyber security industry.
So much so that the City of Albuquerque and Albuquerque Economic Development have teamed up to help build a local industry cluster.
"We have some real strengths here," said city Economic Development Director John Garcia. "The seeds are already planted. We want to embrace it and grow it."
The city and AED surveyed central New Mexico's public and private assets over the past three months to assess growth potential, said Economic Development Division Manager Deirdre Firth.
They found that a large number of firms are involved in cyber security here, although many operate as divisions or subdivisions of existing companies. They also found a deep talent pool for research, training and support at the national laboratories and universities.
"The federal government considers cyber security one of its top priorities, so there's good potential to expand exponentially," Firth said. "We have some very attractive capabilities and assets in terms of really smart people and facilities. Our next step is to develop a strategy to help grow the industry."
With public and private sector demand for services rapidly increasing, local businesses say they're already growing fast.
Computational Analysis & Network Enterprise Solutions LLC, for example, expects to reach $2 million in revenue this year, up from $1.15 million last year and just $76,000 in 2007. The Albuquerque company, called CAaNES, launched in 2006 to commercialize network security and digital forensic technology developed at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro. It was included in this year's Flying 40 list of top-growing companies with under $10 million in revenue.
CAaNES has established a new partnership with Century Link Inc. to provide cyber security services to the telecommunication giant's customers. That accounts for much of CAaNES' growth this year, President Mark Fidel said.
Another company, Sage Technology Partners, is building a niche by providing secure information management services to small businesses. That firm, which launched in 2009, grew its workforce from six to 10 this year. It occupies a 900-squarefoot space at the WESST Enterprise Center Downtown, making it the business incubator's largest tenant.
"(Cyber security) is one of the biggest technology bubbles to ramp up in recent years," President Jared Slogan said.
A Virginia-based firm, Criterion Systems Inc., also opened an office in Albuquerque in September with 30 employees. The company located here to better manage a contract to provide information technology support to the National Nuclear Security Administration's Office of Secure Transportation, and to seek business opportunities with other federal facilities in New Mexico, President and CEO Promod Sharma said.
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