Innovation at RSAC 2021

Posted on by Cecilia Marinier

Sometimes we get in such a groove with launching, running and perfecting a program that we don’t take the time to slow down and realize all that we’ve accomplished. Then you blink and suddenly realize, “Wow. It’s the 16th year of Innovation Sandbox Contest!” What’s exciting about that is that Innovation Sandbox (ISB) is not part of only RSA Conference. It’s not a program that exists in isolation at our annual event. ISB is the reflection of our industry—its evolution, growth, innovation and successes.

Those companies that find their way to the ISB stage have come ready to pitch their solutions to the judges. They are tasked with tooting their own horns as loudly as they possibly can by explaining in three minutes or less the problem they are trying to solve and their novel approach they are taking. They stand before the judges and must convince them of the ways in which their company will stand apart from all other contestants and they are ready to make the greatest difference in information security over the next 12 months.

We can look back over 16 years and say they were spot on. Yes, many finalists are now names you see on the RSAC show floor, but they are also making industry headlines with their latest breakthroughs, initial public offerings and advanced investment rounds. Among the vast collection of companies that have participated since the inception of ISB, we have seen 51 acquisitions and close to $8.2 billion, with a billion in investments.

ISB has had many, many amazing companies come to our stage. While we can’t possibly name them all, some companies that have to be known as industry influencers were ISB participants between 2015 and 2020. We welcomed Bugcrowd, Phantom, SafeBreach, Versa Networks, Cato Networks, Claroty, Enveil, Contrast Security, BigID, CyberGRX, Axonius, Arkose Labs,, Elevate Security, and Vulcan Cyber. Additionally, dozens of companies can now boast having more than $100 million in investments, including SentinelOne, Cybereason, Cylance, Webroot, Menlo Security and more, have become commonplace names in the industry.

In a recent interview, ISB judge Niloo Howe spoke to the many paths for innovation in security, including identity, authentication, API security, compliance, devsecops, cloud security, containers, passwords and training, many of which were reflected in our record number of submissions this year. Contestants highlighted their new approaches to using telemetry, visualization, AI/ML data science techniques, and tackling ransomware, all of which will likely create some challenges for the judges this year. There’s a lot of amazing innovation going on.

Hosting the Program Virtually

As has been the case for everyone during the course of the pandemic, hosting the ISB program virtually has proven to be both an opportunity and a challenge. Because access isn’t as limiting as when people have to physically travel, the virtual program has allowed participation from companies the world over. Additionally, we have two judges based in Israel, one in DC and two in California. Virtual has enabled a global playing field, which is great. We will have Hugh Thompson as our emcee, and although the event will be filmed the week before, nobody will know the winner until the 19th of May after 9:20-10:50 AM when it is announced. Attendees with a Content or All Access Pass can join us, so make sure you stay tuned until the end of the session as we will be interviewing the winner.

Cecilia Marinier

RSA Conference Program Manager, RSA

Human Element RSAC Insights Professional Development & Personnel Management Innovation & Startups

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