Outcomes from the National Fintech Cybersecurity Summit

Last week an assembly of the nation's who’s who of cyber security came together for a roundtable in Sydney, writes David Gee

Last week an assembly of Australia’s who’s who of cyber security came together for a roundtable in Sydney. The event was organised by CSIRO’s Data61 and Stone & Chalk with partners KPMG and the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC).

This roundtable, was chaired by Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel, and the discussion well moderated by Tony Jones from the ABC.

In an interview with Computerworld Australia, Alex Scandurra, CEO of Stone & Chalk, shared his reflections on the event and its outcomes.

A key theme that emerged time and again in the inaugural National Fintech Cybersecurity Summit was the criticality of collaboration – a point echoed by both key Australian and international corporate and cyber security leaders.

This event, which included industry, fintech, government, universities and thought leaders, was a first cyber security-focussed meeting of such a diverse group of stakeholders in Australia and indeed globally.

Both startups and corporates have acknowledged that collaboration in the past has been difficult and that a number of things need to change such as procurement processes and legal frameworks to make collaboration between big and smaller parties a lot easier.

Alex Scandurra was kind enough to reflect on the day. Here are his reflections and responses after the event:

What are the next steps after the cyber roundtable and what do those who participated need to do to move the conversation forward?

We will be producing and sharing a report highlighting some of the key topics of conversation and themes that emerged from the summit and roundtable, and sharing in more detail our proposals for phases 2 and 3 of our Joint Fintech Cyber Security Innovation Program.Several organisations across defence, government, the private sector and research have expressed deep interest to participate in our program.

The intention is that phase 2 will consist of a national design challenge providing commercial opportunities for cyber security startups to collaborate with large organisations. This will be a key precursor to launching our Joint Cyber Fintech Security Innovation Lab.

The lab will bring several startups together to participate in a series of commercialisation opportunities driven through existing demand and areas identified for capability enhancement.The program and lab are proposed to be the leading fintech node within the federal government’s recently announced Cyber Security Growth Centre and national strategy.

Our program will help reduce the time it takes startups to commercialise and scale new innovation and we will be simultaneously helping corporate participants become ‘startup-ready’.

What is your general reaction to the roundtable? What were your key takeaways?

We were thrilled and humbled at the same time with both the very high quality and seniority of leaders from across the country and world as well as the sheer number that attended. We had close to 50 people attend in what was a very packed room full very engaged and passionate people that represented the who’s who of the industry.

Several people remarked that they wished the discussion could have gone on for longer despite the two hours already spent. We will be definitely having a follow-up meeting to start to zero in on key capability and opportunity areas we may wish to focus on in as well as in identifying the organisations across the full spectrum that are interested in participating.

What role do you think the roundtable will play in the development of Australia's cyber security ecosystem?

We think this is where the rubber will hit the road. There are clearly a lot of pockets of innovation in cyber security happening across Australia where some great work is being done. Some are in research institutions, some within corporates and defence and some across the cyber security startup community.

What we don’t have is a way that all these can be brought physically together in a structured program grounded in needs based commercialisation. The roundtable will play a key role in helping to shape, co-design what the program looks like and co-deliver with key startups and investors.

We will be looking to key roundtable participants potentially also form part of our brains trust.

My takeaways

While I’m a massive believer that this is the right thing to do, we should however temper our expectations that this will be have a quick payback.As Australia moves into positioning itself as a digital nation, being a strong cyber security player is 100 per cent complementary with this ambition.

Having grounded expectations is necessary and I would expect that this will be the first of many engagements that include industry, government, academia and innovation incubators.To me it is not important ‘who’ is driving this, but more critical is that we agree ‘how’ we get to this destination.

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