A big Australian cyber security mission stormed the beaches of San Francisco last week seeking intel on how to exploit the giant US market and lure American cyber players to Australia.
The Australian contingent to the RSA Conference 2017 in San Francisco last week consisted of 26 organisations including Foresight, Covata, Enosys, Shearwater, Ionize, Datacom TSS and the University of Adelaide Business School.
This time round, the Aussie presence at RSA swamped the global competition.
“This mission was larger than the mission Germany brought, larger than the mission that Israel brought and larger than the mission the UK brought,” said Frances van Ruth, Trade and Investment Commissioner at the Australian Consul in San Francisco, who headed up the Austrade effort at the RSA conference.
“We were able to create some buzz,” said Ms van Ruth. “Germany had 18 companies, the UK had eight – we had 26.”
The mission to the RSA security shindig was led by Craig Davies, one time head of security for Atlassian and now CEO of the Australian Cybersecurity Growth Network, an initiative that grew out of the federal government’s Cyber Security Strategy launch last April.
Getting the mission over to the US was a joint effort between ACSGN and Austrade.
It would be a massive understatement to say cyber security is a hot topic right now, with foreign hacker intrigue front and centre during the US elections and now also a feature of the Trump administration, as well as high profile cyber security problems here such as the ABS debacle last year.
Globally the digital security market is worth somewhere north of $100 billion and is expected to double out to 2020. Developing muscle on Australia’s cyber security frame has been a serious part of the Turnbull Government’s jobs and growth through agility schtick.
The just formed ACGN is an industry led not-for-profit jointly chaired by ex-IBM luminary Doug Elix and Data61 boss Adrian Turner and aims to develop a strategy that will help develop a globally competitive cyber security industry here.
“For the companies that came along it’s given them an opportunity to experience just what the market’s like over here,” said Mr Davies who was also the custodian of the mission mascot, known as Cyber Roo.
“It’s been great watching these people during the week go through the transformation of understanding exactly what the market is like over here,” said Mr Davies. The US is responsible for about 40 percent of the global cyber security market.
“They got some big tips during the week such as you are going to need a good lawyer, what the VCs are looking for, where you need to pitch yourself
Mr Davies said one of the main things a local cyber security venture looking to insert itself into the US market needed to learn was how to speak Yank.
“You have to learn to speak American,” he said. “You need to spend time understanding the idiosyncrasies between selling something in Australia and selling it in the US.”
A fulcrum event during the week to learn that difference was the Australian Cyber Security Showcase sponsored by Quintessence Labs and UpGuard.
“We had about 200 people at the showcase event on Wednesday night – there were a lot of conversations going down in that room.” said Mr Davies.
“The feedback we got from delegates is that they made some great connections and there were plenty of opportunities for business. It was also good for them to get out with other Aussies and talk and share the experience.”
“Some companies on this trip made connections they are going to follow up and are very confident they will lead to business opportunities here in the US.”
Along with exposing Australian cyber security firms to the US, the mission was also keen to showcase Australia to US digital security firms as the place to set up an Asia Pacific facing regional headquarters.
To this end Austrade hosted a briefing at the RSA conference where US outfits Intel Security, F5 and Big Switch talked about their Australian operations.
“We held a breakfast seminar directly targeting US companies that wanted to setup Asia Pacific headquarters to talk to them about why they should do that in Australia.”
A the breakfast the US firms with an Australian presence spoke about our market being a ‘voracious’ consumer of cloud computing and cloud services, according to Ms van Ruth.
The mission will be formed up to come again next year, with possibly another one attending an intervening US cyber security event, possibly on the US east coast.
Mr Davies hopes that next time the Cyber Roo will play mascot to a contingent as large as 50 Australian security outfits.