Canberra cybersecurity startup Penten has nabbed a $1.3 million innovation contract to develop a cryptography solution for the Australian Army.
According to Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne, the project was chosen as part of the Special Notice platform being trialled by the Defence Innovation Hub, which allows industry and research organisations to submit proposals to capability challenges posted by Defence.
The contract will see Penten develop its AltoCrypt solution, which facilitates mobile access to government networks.
“This advanced communication technology can be rapidly deployed to individual computers, which will change the way classified information is shared, used and accessed,” Pyne said.
“The development of these devices aims to increase agility, reduce complexity and enable better decisions by ADF commanders and their staff in a tactical environment.”
Pyne said initial trials will test how the technology could be used with partners, with the potential to increase classification in the future.
The online Defence Innovation Hub was launched in late 2016, in line with the opening of the Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) in Adelaide.
The CDIC, backed by a $230 million government investment over 10 years, offers Australian businesses a space to interact with defence experts to learn more about developing the skills and resources required to work within the Australian Defence industry.
Pyne said at the time that the Defence Innovation Hub will invest around $640 million over 10 years into maturing and further developing technologies that have moved from the early science stages into the engineering and development stages.
The promotion of innovation within defence came with the release of the Defence Industry Policy Statement in February 2016.
In addition to outlining spending across “critical infrastructure” and weaponry, the statement pledged a $1.6 billion total investment towards streamlining Defence innovation.
Beyond the $640 million given through the Defence Innovation Hub, another $730 million will be invested under the Next Generation Technologies Fund into developing innovative technologies to be used within Australian Defence.
The government also last year announced $50 million in funding for a Defence Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) that will focus on the development of Trusted Autonomous Systems, or unmanned platforms for military operations.
The CRC will receive $8 million in funding annually over seven years to bring together academia, publicly-funded research agencies, and industry to deliver platforms “that ensure reliable and effective cooperation between people and machines during dynamic military operations”.
A further $500 million in funding was also announced last year to improve Australia’s space-based surveillance and intelligence capabilities.
Image: Chris Pyne.