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Cybersecurity expert Mathew Wilson taps into the defence and security sectors and Canberra’s supportive startup community.
Matthew Wilson didn’t grow up in Canberra, but he backs it as a business hub as if he was born here.
After spending time in Canberra for work, he moved permanently in 2014 as co-founder of cyber security experts, Penten.
Penten focuses on applied AI (artificial intelligence) solutions and secure mobility, delivering hardware and software that gives government workers mobile and secure access to classified government information.
Matthew is active in the Canberra startup community, and a champion of Canberra’s standard of living.
“Canberra helps you create a lifestyle where work is just one part of your day,” he says. “It’s one of those grand opportunities Canberra gives people — they can live their best life because less commuting has given them back their time.”
Canberra’s in a unique position where academics in the tertiary and research sector mix with people in tech, startup and global defence companies. After building cybersecurity businesses in other Australian cities, Matthew and the Penten founding team realised Canberra was the place that allowed them to work on bigger challenges.
“If we wanted to have a global impact on the technology we were creating, there was only one place to do that from. Canberra is where the toughest problems are,” says Matthew.
“You’ve got much more direct access to federal government decision makers — it is quite unlike anything I’ve seen before. Canberra was our opportunity to understand global problems in the security space, and then apply a bunch of talented engineers to solving those problems.”
Startups and new businesses enjoy significant support from the ACT Government through the Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN) and a host of business support programs.
“It’s been a lot easier setting up business here than other parts of the country. There’s much broader support within our industry,” says Matthew.
“The ACT government is investing to grow the defence and cyber sectors in Canberra. We’ve had enormous support from high-profile industry sector representatives like former Senator, Kate Lundy, and support to get Canberra companies to international trade shows.”
For Matthew and the 80-strong Penten team, connection is Canberra’s business secret. Your 5 meetings in the CBD are all likely to be in walking distance. Far from a slower pace, it means getting more done during a business day.
The more relaxed lifestyle and famously well-planned infrastructure encourages a supportive startup and business community.
“The key difference to other capitals is we have a central location people can get to easily. It’s that simple. Our CBD is accessible, so we keep that monthly networking appointment,” says Matthew.
“That feeds a healthy startup ecosystem, because entrepreneurship is challenging. You need to talk to other entrepreneurs and ask those questions: How do I grow? How do I raise capital? How do I manage risk? That’s the real value of Canberra’s generous startup community.”
Matthew says creating connections with federal government decision makers makes Canberra fertile ground for anybody who wants to grow in the security sector. While there is defence and security capability around the country, Canberra is the heart of the sector.
“We’re close enough to get our customers involved in the technology we’re developing. We can get much earlier feedback from industry so we know if we’re heading in the right direction or not. That’s a real risk management opportunity.”
If your business focuses on national security — there’s no better place to have an impact than here in Canberra. The support of the customer base, world-class universities, and a government that supports growth of the innovation space make it ideal for world-leading, meaningful work.
“Canberra supports your confidence. You’re more likely to find your path. On top of that, you’ll have a standard of living like nothing else that you’ll get in Australia. It’s genuinely a wonderful place to raise a family — I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”