Innovative Australian cybersecurity companies are already chalking up investment wins after just 3 months of concentrated effort by the federal government-spawned Australian Cyber Security Growth Network (ACSGN), the recently appointed head of the organisation has reported – while warning that too many Australian technology buyers are still favouring often less-capable solutions sourced from overseas vendors.
“In Australia, we have developed some incredible technologies and people with skills,” ACSGN CEO Craig Davies – who moved to helm the new organisation after years as CISO at Atlassian and Cochlear – told attendees at the Security Innovation Day within this week’s Cisco Live! conference in Melbourne.
“What we do is ship them off overseas to be successful,” he continued, “and then we will consider looking at them. What we don’t look at is the opportunities inside our own markets to grow and develop our natural capabilities in many of these areas – even though in some of these areas we are truly leading the world.”
The innovation of Australian solutions had been recognised in Silicon Valley during a recent Austrade-backed trade mission that saw Davies accompany 32 representatives of 26 Australian companies to the RSA security conference in the US. There, Davies said, interactions with security-industry figures had led to great interest.
“Within our first 90 days we’ve seen some investments starting to flow and some firms start to partner together,” he explained. “Our mission is to create firms that can provide incredible services for [customers], because we know there are some areas that we are really good at.”
Strong support from government – encapsulated within the fully funded and prime minister-backed $230m Cyber Security Strategy (CSS) – have paved the way for substantial growth in the market.
ACSGN has already identified around 45 companies that it sees as “really interesting” – many of which were profiled in the federal government’s recently-released Cyber Security Industry Capability Report.
Yet realising their potential, Davies said, would depend on Australian companies becoming more receptive to partnering with local innovators – and doing so earlier in their lifecycles.
A request for a show of hands from attendees who had bought security technology from Australian companies – which elicited few hands and an assessment of “that’s a little sad” from Davies – highlighted the extent of a problem that, he said, underscored the challenges that ACSGN and its partners faced in realising the broader goals and vision of the CSS.
“Australia has an incredible reputation for trust and legitimacy,” Davies said, “but we often don’t look at the opportunities inside our own market to grow and develop our natural capabilities in many of these areas.”
Doing so, however, would require increased interaction from consumers of technology to understand where they perceive local solutions as falling short. “We want to know what that is, so we can fix it for you,” he said, stressing the need for all involved to move quickly.
“Our job at ACSGN is to connect and multiply, and our #1 KPI is how we create a measurable economic benefit for Australia,” he said. “If we don’t move on this stuff now, it will be pointless. We won’t need to worry about having an industry in five years because the opportunity will have passed us by.”