Australia is at a widely analysed strategic crossroads. To accelerate the growth of a secure, resilient and technologically sophisticated economy, we must develop and extend our capability in critical and emerging technologies.
That means supporting the commercialisation of Australian intellectual property in all areas of emerging technology – from artificial intelligence and automation, to fintech to medtech and biotech to cyber security.
Cyber security is especially important, because it is a fundamental enabler of trust as well as innovation across emerging technologies and indeed across our entire economy.
Well reported is the number and type of threat actors – both criminal and state-based – increasing markedly over the last 12 months, and not just for the big end of town. Organisations of all sizes, sectors as well as schools, community groups and homes are in the cross hairs.
This increased necessity comes at a time of mandatory business transformation and digitisation. The COVID era laid bare the inefficiencies and friction points in business models across the economy, from education and entertainment to banking and retail.
A more mature understanding of the transaction costs across destabilized supply chains has also emerged.
Industry leaders are now searching for partners and trailblazers who can transform their business operations rapidly with emerging technologies, in ways that bring inbuilt security and resilience.
If Australia remains simply an end customer of offshore vendors for emerging and critical technologies, we will be selling ourselves short strategically but also in the retained benefits of jobs and profit when we have competitive domestic offerings.
Expenditure in business transformation and emerging technologies will be expropriated by global vendors selling off-the-shelf solutions to Australian customers who will gain no competitive advantage and will often be forced to arrange their business operations around the requirements of an existing product that the vendor is offering.
On the other hand, if we use the infrastructure already built and invested in to nurture the commercialisation of home-grown emerging technologies in sophisticated ways, we can better leverage the strength of our advanced research capability to create intellectual property in industries that plays to Australia’s strengths as well as deliver increased self-reliance.
The new/ endured normal of the pandemic demonstrates the need for us to be sharper in how we achieve this through trusted partnerships and innovation.
Right now, across the world, the opportunity for Australia is enormous.
This is why we, as the leaders of two prominent not-for-profits working in critical and emerging technologies, have merged our organisations to show a better way to leverage the best of previous investment in capability to create capacity to accelerate the growth in industries delivering a more innovative, secure economy.
To capitalise on the transformative moment that we are in, Australia’s emerging technology companies must be secure by design from day one, before a single line of code is written. Corporates and government organisations seeking digital transformation partners lean heavily towards those that can provide serious security credentials.
A strategic integration of the peak body for the cyber security industries with the leading commercialisation network for all emerging tech will ensure that our emerging technologies are secure and can increase the security of their customers and partners.
Our cyber security industry has more than quadrupled in direct value since 2017, from $800 million to $3.6 billion today. Most companies in this sector are young – 40 per cent are less than five years old.
This is an extraordinary growth story that has occurred under the auspices of AustCyber which has operated as an Industry Growth Centre since 2017. AustCyber will continue to operate as an Industry Growth Centre until mid-2022.
Emerging technology more broadly has a pivotal role to play in Australia’s new economy. Research has shown that every job in technology created five more across the economy. Companies less than five years old employ nearly one in two Australians and are net job creators whereas legacy companies are net job shedders.
Australia’s entire business ecosystem will need to leverage emerging technology companies that are innovative, focused and secure to thrive in a post-pandemic world.
As an organisation that exists at the nexus of emerging technology and business Stone & Chalk is powering the growth of our emerging tech ecosystem and business transformation.
Full-scale commercialisation support is needed to maintain and extend this growth and tell the next chapter of the story.
The integration of AustCyber and Stone & Chalk will provide this to our current ecosystems and extend our reach across other emerging technology industries, established and nascent.
This includes virtual trade missions with potential export markets, bespoke introductions to potential investors with the right portfolio and expertise to provide far more than financial support, access to customers ranging from scaleups and government departments to national and multinational corporates, and a powerful advocacy body advancing the interests of founders at a state and federal level.
In a world where critical and emerging tech are becoming central to economic growth, resilience and security of national economies, a body like the one we are creating with this merger is no longer optional.
Our success in the mission of developing and extending Australian industrial capability in critical and emerging technology will underpin the nation’s prosperity and security for decades to come.