Singapore residency stokes cyber tech enterprise
Landing Pads help small companies create world-class products quickly. In 2019, entrepreneurs Dr Omaru Maruatona and Solo Kombani used the Singapore Landing Pad to immerse the ground-breaking Aiculus cyber security tool in Singapore’s fast-paced fintech ecosystem. With a receptive commercial audience and smart connections in Southeast Asia’s tech sector, Aiculus is now gaining global traction and regional customers.
Australia has a thriving digital technology industry – spanning fintech, agtech and medtech – but local entrepreneurs face a big geographical challenge. If new ideas have to ‘succeed quickly or fail fast’, how do Australian innovators engage with an industry that is both global and ultra fast-moving? How do they build a globally competitive product before local customers are even ready?
One company facing this challenge is Melbourne-based Aiculus. Founded in 2017 by Dr Omaru Maruatona, the company tackles one of the biggest cyber security challenges of today: the weak spot created when programmers link one database or legacy system with another.
‘Intra-systems connectivity is a huge growth area for organisations because it allows diverse systems to communicate,’ says Omaru. ‘The tool that enables us to do this integration is called an API [application programming interfaces]. These APIs are popular because they help legacy technology to live on and allow different systems to be interlinked.’
Despite their immense advantage, APIs are vulnerable to a host of attacks. According to Omaru, trying to secure them now takes up a lot of time for in-house IT staff. Omaru, who has a PhD in applied Artificial Intelligence (AI), conceived an API security tool built on detecting API traffic anomalies using AI. The idea was ground-breaking but to capitalise on it Aiculus needed to move very fast indeed.
Immediately after founding Aiculus, Omaru took the idea to CyRise, a six-month cyber security accelerator program based in Melbourne. Just after CyRise, Omaru had a minimal viable product but commercial progress was slow. At the time, pitches resulted in limited interest and most Australian companies were just awakening to the security threat post by APIs.
‘We thought; “Hey, we’re ahead of our time here — but so what? To succeed, we need to find our market and make commercial progress now.”’