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Australian sovereign C4 SMEs secure an unsolicited proposal with army for a new sovereign defence industry cooperative model

Seventeen Australian companies have joined the C4 EDGE (Evolutionary Digital Ground Environment) Communications Program, to scope the demonstration of a sovereign land battlegroup and below communications environment for the Australian Army.

The C4 EDGE program will leverage internationally agreed open standards to grow and demonstrate Australian C4 (command control communications and computers) industry capacity and ability to deliver a battlegroup and below C4 capability demonstration.

Ultimately, by the end of 2021 the program will have delivered a proof of concept demonstration that shows the capability of Australian industry to further develop a protected, integrated and supportable sovereign system: one that delivers agile and resilient C2 functionality to meet the flexible, scalable and interoperability needs of a battlegroup operating independently or with partners.

At an event held in Canberra yesterday ACT based companies 1LM, Insitec, Kord Defence, Outlander Solutions, Penten, SkyKraft and Xtec; contracted under the nation-wide program comprised of 17 businesses, were officially welcomed to Team C4 EDGE by Senator Zed Seselja (ACT) and EOS Defence Systems CEO Grant Sanderson.

Grant Sanderson who remarking on the program said:
“The C4 EDGE program is an innovative and creative initiative from the Australian Government and Army that demonstrates their commitment to improved Australian Industry engagement and opportunity. EOS feels very privileged to have the opportunity to lead this activity and help industry present their capabilities.”

Team members based in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia, who were unable to participate in the event due to COVID-19 travel restrictions will be officially welcomed during a series of locally-arranged events and announcements next week.

Team C4 EDGE Statistics:

  • C4 EDGE is represented in six Australian states and one territory
  • 17 Australian C4 subject matter expert companies
  • 975 employees
  • Approx. $616M of annual gross turnover
  • Approx. $408M in annual global exports

Comments from ACT representatives:

Joel Deans, CEO, 1LM (providing specialist resourcing expertise):

“We are excited and honoured to be a part of this tremendous initiative showcasing sovereign Australian Defence capability. 1LM is proud to contribute its local domain knowledge and technical expertise to shape and manage the system design and engineering program.”

Michael Branch, CEO, Insitec MIS (providing application environment solutions):

“We are incredibly excited to be able to conduct this program with the Army and bring a fresh new 21st century approach to provisioning of capability to the soldiers of the ADF”.

Peter Moran, CEO, Kord Defence (providing push-button control technology):

“It is both an honour and a privilege to be working with so many innovative Australian companies in developing a communications capability that is not only unique but developed in Australia for Australian soldiers. Kord’s push-button control technology will enable the soldier to simply and easily operate this new communications technology without being distracted or putting themselves in harm’s way; a small, but important contribution to the overall effort.”

Bevan Jones, CEO/CTO, Outlander Solutions (providing soldier-networking technology):

“Building a smarter Australian manufacturing base is more critical now more than ever to our nation’s future. Facing global destabilisation and recessions, the need for local knowledge, local products and a rapid and responsive supplier base to support the ADF in defence and partnership within and around our continent is most critical. We welcome the opportunity to support our colleagues in the Australian Sovereign Industry, and welcome the support for Australian and Canberra’s advanced manufacture and product support to build investment and jobs here in Australia for now and a long term future.”

Matthew Wilson, CEO, Penten (providing encryption capability and security compliance):

“There is a grand opportunity for Australia to build its own domestic industry and the C4 Edge program will prove it’s possible. Australia is well placed to grow a sovereign industrial base and create competitive advantage through digital resilience. Here is an opportunity to use this momentum to steer Australia’s economic story. We are proud of what we are building as an industry. It’s possible that Australia can be the digital security leader in our region and be a reliable source of technology advantage to our allies, but first we need to be a customer of our own innovations.’’

James Prior, Managing Director, SkyKraft (providing space-based global services through constellations of small satellites):

“The C4 Edge Development Program represents a paradigm change in the Army’s approach for sovereign capability development. Australian businesses possess the skills, expertise, novel mindset and customer focus to create robust and innovative solutions for real world applications that will keep the Australian Defence Force on the front foot. Skykraft looks forward to the innovations that will be realised through the C4 Edge Program and the partnerships it represents.”

Philippe Odouard, MD, XTEK (providing sensors and geospatial application):

“C4 EDGE provides XTEK with the opportunity to further leverage the benefits of our home grown XTatlasTM technology, along with other sub-systems and technology from distinguished Australian based partners. The potential to utilise XTatlasTM to enable a small unmanned aerial systems vehicle to locate, track and communicate targets to a remote weapon system is one of the many exciting aspects of this program.”

Pictured: left to right: Bob Quodling, COO, XTEK; Colonel Deane Limmer; Troy Huckstepp, COO, 1LM; Justin Bain, CEO, 3ME; Matthew Wilson, CEO, Penten; Senator Zed Seselja (ACT); Grant Sanderson, CEO, EOS Defence Systems; Bevan Jones, CEO Outlander Solutions; Michael Branch, CEO, Insitec; James Prior, Managing Director, SkyKraft; Peter Moran, CEO, Kord

Announcement anchor tenancy Launch

UNSW Canberra has welcomed local Canberra cyber security company Penten as the anchor tenant at the University’s new collaborative workspace precinct; Launch on Northbourne.

UNSW Canberra Rector, Professor Michael Frater said that the concept of Launch is about the power of collaboration and Penten will be a leading contributor to the success of the collaborative model.

“Penten is a local Canberra company that have achieved great success having been recognised as Telstra’s 2018 Australian Business of the year as well as Australia Defence Industry’s 2019 Cyber business of the year.

“They also have a strong connection with UNSW Canberra; from advising and teaching into our cyber courses through to the staff they employ with UNSW Canberra alumni being key members of the leadership team,” Professor Frater said.

“Penten is forward-thinking and innovative, working on future challenges that industry and Australia will face. I welcome them to Launch and am are excited by the research and educational opportunities the collaboration will enable.”

Matthew Wilson, CEO of Penten said that moving to Launch will enable the business to grow in a centrally located area that provides easy access for clients, industry partners and employees.

“The Launch collaboration space provides the opportunity to share ideas, resources and new methods of delivering capability in the defence, space and cyber industries,” Mr Wilson said.

Being part of a unique opportunity to contribute to the vibrant and growing community in Canberra focused on Defence and national security whilst sharing space with academia, government and industry partners was part of the appeal of the Launch concept.

“It also means being at the heart of innovation which is something Penten strives to do,”
Mr Wilson said.

ACT Minister for Advanced Technology and Space Industries, Mick Gentleman said Penten is a local success story, providing world-class sovereign defence and cyber capability and contributing to Canberra’s remarkable culture of innovation and excellence.

“It’s great to see companies like Penten continuing to grow here in Canberra. By working collaboratively alongside other organisations – like UNSW Canberra – our local advanced technology industries will be well placed to solve the cyber challenges of tomorrow.

“The ACT Government is committed to supporting our defence, space and cyber industries, which play a key role in diversifying the ACT economy, attracting more investment and creating more jobs for Canberra,” said Minister Gentleman.

Penten is an Australian cyber company focused on delivering defence and security technologies. It makes hardware and software cyber solutions to enable the modern war fighter and policy maker and give them the best advantage. In addition, the company creates secure mobility devices, encryption modules and automation tools to counter the adversary.

“Cyber security is a rapidly growing industry and defence is becoming more digital and connected. The future fight will include machine-on-machine conflict and we need to ensure Australia has world-leading defence and security technologies to tackle this challenge,” Mr Wilson said.

Launch on Northbourne was announced in December last year and is dedicated to the defence and security industries. It is a precursor to the larger Defence and Security Innovation Precinct which will be established at UNSW Canberra’s new City campus.

The Precinct will facilitate new connections in the sector, fostering powerful collaborations and contributing to the advancement of Australia’s defence and security capabilities.

Penten, a local cyber security company has been successful receiving funding under contract with AustCyber, the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network to provide secure network access to a pilot group of regional SMEs and academia.

This project represents turning point for Defence industry. The opportunity will provide Aussie SMEs with means to bid for, win and work on Government classified projects in a secure and protected environment from any location. Regional Australia will no longer be excluded from working on Defence projects and Australia’s sovereign defence capabilities will have a chance to thrive.

For some regional SMEs and the research community, working with Defence has proved difficult. The cost to set up and operate secure IT systems is expensive and complex. This complexity has restricted SMEs from entering the industry, whereas larger companies with the ability to set up and maintain secure communications have had an advantage.

Penten’s secure mobility service is a low-cost alternative, providing regional Australia the chance to join the Defence industry without the high up-front and ongoing maintenance costs. It also gives Defence industry the opportunity to engage a wider range of Australian companies to deliver sovereign capability.

Based on Penten’s AltoCrypt® technology, the project will deliver customers a familiar desktop experience through a secure device to a protected environment. Users will enjoy flexibility without the need for briefcases, power packs and cables. The SME will only need to provide an internet connection.

The secure mobility service provides the SME the ability to meet the requirements to access Australian government work with the opportunity to expand to the global defence market. After the pilot, it is planned to roll out the service to a wide net of Defence Industry partners.

Matthew Wilson, CEO, Penten reiterated the benefits to Australia are twofold. “SMEs are the future growth and innovation engine of the Australian cyber economy. These businesses provide invaluable opportunities for Defence to gain advantage. Without them, we are missing out. Australia is missing out.

“Our secure mobility service will provide these SMEs and academics the opportunity to be seen, heard, and have their ideas, products and skills recognised on a national and international level. The Australian economy will benefit as will the SMEs themselves. This is a turning point for regional Australia, small business and Defence. No one need be excluded any more”.

Michelle Price, CEO, AustCyber said, “This project will bring together Australian SMEs to better support and protect themselves, Defence and national security information; as well as Australia’s emerging place in the global defence and cyber market. AustCyber sees this project as a true game changer for the Australian economy and it shows a better way for economies globally.”

In addition to work opportunities, this secure mobility service raises the cyber protection of those businesses and researchers that face the highest threat. Often, SMEs are targeted by cyber adversaries as they are not equipped to protect themselves. The cost of not making the investment results in their exclusion from directly supporting the Defence sector. This project will enable these communities with trusted and proven cyber protection.

For academia specifically, the project will foster the acceleration of sensitive research and development enabling participation in the lucrative and forward leaning, global defence markets.

Sarah Bailey, has accepted a position on Penten’s board of directors. This significant step, marks the rapid growth of the company.

Since Penten’s inception in 2014, the company has doubled in staff and revenue every year, with 2020 projected to yield similar results. Sarah Bailey’s newest role as a company director, demonstrates the maturing of the company from a start-up to medium sized business in less than five years.

Matthew Wilson, CEO, Penten said, “Never before have we appointed someone who is not originally one of the founders of the company to the Board. We know that good business strategy comes from diverse thinking.

“Sarah brings her experienced and varied outlook to our board. She has proven to be an extremely effective CFO and she has played a pivotal role in Penten’s recent success. Only good things can come from this appointment.”

Bailey is an accomplished finance and business executive with more than 20 years’ experience in finance, strategy and governance. With qualifications in commerce, psychology and business leadership, she has exemplary skills across a broad, cross-section of areas.

Bailey has championed innovative people initiatives at Penten, including policies such as 26 weeks paid paternal leave, unlimited sick and carer’s leave, unlimited reservist leave and a 50/50 gender target.

Sarah Bailey, CFO, Penten said, “Diversity comes in many forms and one of the things we need to grapple with in the competitive cyber industry is attracting the best and brightest. We know we need to think as creatively as we can to attract the best. Penten is creating a workforce where especially women feel as though they can excel.”

Penten has been recognised on the National Australia Bank’s Innovation Index 2019 as exhibiting some of the best innovation behaviours in Australia. The innovation index measures how businesses did things differently, more quickly or more cost effectively.

Sarah Bailey, CFO, Penten said, “Innovation is in our heartbeat, not something we do on the side. We find customer problems that are unsolved and we do cutting edge work to solve them.”

Penten focuses on innovation by investing heavily in research and development and placing strategic importance on its people.

“At the heart of Penten is its people and a culture of deep internal trust, a family-like atmosphere and a strong united mission. By prioritising people, it not only creates an atmosphere of innovation, but drives customer satisfaction and business performance.” Bailey said.

Penten was recently recognised as Most Innovative Company in the AFR and Boss Awards and also received an award for Best Innovation Platform.

To access the full report visit:

CSIRO D61+ Live

The Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre (CSCRC), has today announced a major research project between homegrown cyber security company Penten and CSIRO’s Data61, the data and digital specialist arm of Australia’s national science agency, to extend the country’s sovereign advantage in autonomous and active defence.

At the inaugural Australian Defence Industry Awards last night, Penten was awarded Cyber Business of the Year. In addition to winning the overall cyber category, three Penten staff made the finalist list: Matthew Wilson, Executive of the Year; Ben Whitham, Innovator of the Year and Cameron Humphries, Engineer of the Year.

Matthew Wilson, CEO of Penten, was awarded EY Entrepreneur of the Year, in the Emerging Male category at an exclusive awards ceremony in Sydney on 13 August 2019.

EY Entrepreneur of The Year is a unique global program that recognises entrepreneurial achievement among individuals that demonstrate vision, leadership and success — and work to improve the quality of life in their communities, countries and around the world.

Last night in Sydney, Penten was named Australia and New Zealand’s Most Innovative Company for 2019 and also took out Best Innovation Program, 2019 in the Government category at the prestigious Australian Financial Review and Boss Magazine Awards.

Penten ranked first for both awards from over 800 organisations across Australia and New Zealand. This award is based on rigorous assessment processes managed by Australian consultancy Inventium in conjunction with a panel of industry experts judges.