By Jeff John Roberts
April 6, 2017

The film industry has Hollywood, the banks have Wall Street, and tech has Silicon Valley. But so far the fast-growing cybersecurity industry—slated to pull in more than $100 billion a year by 2020—has no obvious place to call home.

If you believe in the theory of economic clusters, popularized in a 1998 HBR article by professor Michael Porter, the cyber business is exactly the sort of industry that could give rise to a regional hub or cluster—a “Cybercon Valley” if you will.

Clusters, recall, represent a geographic region where an intangible mix of people, education, and economic factors create an interdependent network of businesses and institutions. As those ties become stronger, it becomes virtually impossible for a competing city to disrupt or replace the cluster. That’s why, despite innumerable efforts to copy them, there’s still only one Silicon Valley or Hollywood.

What makes the race to build a regional cyber center so interesting is that there are all sorts of places right now claiming they have the secret sauce to win the crown. But so far, there is no obvious winner.

If a dominant cyber hub does emerge, it will likely have most or all of the following attributes: proximity to a research university; a large population of hackers or military types; access to angel and venture capital; a culture of cooperation and entrepreneurship.

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To figure out which cities fit this bill, Fortune talked to investors, entrepreneurs, and academics. Based on those conversations, here are seven leading contenders: five in the United States and two abroad.

The choices here are subjective, of course, and it’s possible a place not on this list could emerge as the winner. (Other names that have come up in discussion include the likes of Seattle, San Antonio, and Huntsville, Ala.).

But for now, here are the seven cities most destined to become the capital of the cybersecurity industry.


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