Time for Australia to build a cybersecurity industry: Stone & Chalk

Fintech incubator Stone & Chalk believes there is an opportunity for Australia to lead in the cybersecurity space both locally and internationally.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Stone & Chalk CEO Alex Scandurra has proposed that cybersecurity discussions will help large organisations and local startups come together.

"What we're proposing to do is to create a joint cybersecurity innovation program where we bring the two sides of the market together," he said during the opening of the National Fintech Cyber Security Summit in Sydney on Tuesday.

"We have an opportunity to bring large organisations, including government, to represent the demand side of the equation, and to surface those opportunities and those problems to be solved, and then bring the supply side of the market -- which are top researchers and research organisations like Data 61, and some of our key universities together with top startups and innovative talent -- to create and commercialise that very same IP the big end of town is looking for and is ready to consume."

Scandurra pointed out that this move will help Australia develop its own local cybersecurity community, something that he believes Australia is more than capable of creating.

"We need, as a country, to leverage our collective talent, but also not continually rely on Israel, the US, and other markets to provide us cybersecurity capabilities. It's like us sourcing our defence force in the 21st century from somebody else; it's just not palatable," he said.

"[There] is an opportunity to create and help develop a really strong domestic industry around cybersecurity."

Similarly, Data61 CEO Adrian Turner, who was recently appointed as co-chair of the Cyber Security Growth Centre, said there is tremendous opportunity to build a "vibrant" security industry domestically.

He said the Cyber Security Growth Centre will help bring together industry research and governments to create a national cybersecurity innovation network; develop a national strategy for Australia to become a global leader and attract investment from multinationals; and coordinate cybersecurity research to reduce overlap.

Australia's chief scientist Alan Finkel, who also joined Scandurra and Turner on the stage, agreed, saying that with the likes of companies such as Nuix already leading the way, there is evidence for a need to establish a local cybersecurity market.

"There is a clear economic imperative for cybersecurity capability in Australia. We have digitally advanced industries, typified by banking, industries that demand comprehensive cybersecurity capabilities," he said.

"According to a recent KPMG report, there are 10 Australian companies that are top global fintech companies ... these and their contemporaries will demand increasing cybersecurity capabilities as they grow. So why wouldn't we innovate to meet this local demand?"

Finkel also commended the federal government's recent introduction of its AU$240 million cybersecurity strategy, which will focus on closer collaboration with business. He said the launch reflects the commitment on all side of politics to defend the country's local interests.

Scandurra pointed out that Stone & Chalk has kicked off a program called Becoming Startup Ready, where the incubator is working with government and corporate partners to redesign and re-engineer the procuring process to make it easier to conduct pilots and proof of concepts through new contracts between large organisations and startups.

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