In Australia, public discussion and debate on export markets usually focuses on commodities, such as resources, energy and agricultural produce and their respective contribution to the nation’s economy.
Certainly, those commodity exports drive a major component of the nation’s economic growth.
But we hear less about our successful export of technology, and the intellectual property that comes with it.
Naturally, there is much focus in the media and in the political sphere on defence platforms such as submarines and helicopters, but these are not necessarily the best areas on which Australia should focus for exports.
A large platform (especially for defence usage) will always be an evolved version of a previous large platform and this will mean that Australia will always be looking overseas for a base version of something it wishes to develop domestically.
Instead, it is best for Australia to focus its energies on areas where product heritage is not particularly important.
This is where we come to developing technology. A good example is cyber. Unlike platforms, cyber development today is not particularly dependent on what happened five years ago.
Just like our health professionals who are continually racing to stay ahead of troublesome pathogens, those in the cyber domain must also continually innovate to stay ahead of emerging threats.
Because of its relatively small size, Australia has always relied on having better technology to counter its adversaries.
This will be as true in the cyber domain as it is for any other field.
What is needed to develop cyber in Australia are skilled people with good ideas, and Australia has a lot of that resource.
Australia is developing a reputation for fostering and developing intellectual and technology know-how in the field of national security technology.
A focus on technology exports has been successful for Penten and we have turned our ideas into technology that is sold overseas.
The best example is in our secure mobility business.
Our secure mobility solutions were borne out of a recognition that the global national security market had not properly responded to an acute need.
From there we developed secure mobility technology that is now used domestically and in other markets.
Ironically, it was the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that helped us to secure business opportunities in the UK.
When UK government employees were forced to work from home last year, some of their communications channels were secured through Penten’s AltoCrypt Stik product.
Approved for use by government, the AltoCrypt Stik provided more than 4,000 UK employees across more than 40 departments and agencies an ability to work securely and remotely from home by accessing highly-classified and sensitive information using their home Wi-Fi.
Last financial year, Penten exported $6.5 million in product, mostly through our services and gateways to the UK, including royalties on the Stik product.
Another possible avenue for technology exports from Australia is in Applied Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is going to become an increasingly large part of the theatre of war.
In the future, threats to our online integrity will come from machines.
Machines are not invincible though and they do make mistakes and this is where counter-AI comes in.
No country however has matured counter-AI technologies and Australia is well placed to step up and fill the vacuum.
What applied AI and secure mobility have in common is they are both fast moving technological fields. In such an environment, a country with a well-educated workforce is in a good position to come up with the best technology. Furthermore, no country is held back by another nation’s product history.
With technology exports, it is a company’s intellectual property that provides a competitive edge. This means that any company with the right mix of skills can develop something that can be sold overseas.
Australia’s national security industry will continue to grow in line with the Australian Government’s record peacetime investment in defence.
A focus on technology exports will be essential to create a sustainable industry that supports high wage and high skills jobs. Only through exports can Australia’s national security industry be liberated from the need to rely on federal government contracts.
Penten is an Australian, cyber company focused on innovation in secure mobility, applied artificial intelligence (AI) and tactical communications security.
In 2019 and 2020 Penten was awarded Cyber Business of the Year at the Australian Defence Industry Awards.
For more information visit www.penten.com