Canberra businesses have shone at the Australian Export Awards, with two winning their categories, and global health services company Aspen Medical being inducted into the Australian Export Awards Hall of Fame.
Canberra-based cyber technology company Penten was the winner of the Emerging Exporter category in 2021, while factual entertainment company Wildbear Entertainment took home the award in the Creative Industries category.
Aspen Medical’s Hall of Fame honour comes after previously winning the Health and Biotechnology Award in 2011, 2013 and 2018. It was also named Australian Exporter of the Year in 2018.
Founded in 2003 by Glenn Keys, Aspen Medical is an Australian-owned, multi-award-winning global provider of guaranteed and innovative healthcare solutions across a diverse range of sectors and clients, including defence, the mining and resources sector, government and humanitarian missions.
Its services have been in high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, including in the ACT where it built the COVID-19 Surge Centre in Garran.
Aspen Medical CEO Bruce Armstrong defined the company’s key ingredient for success and offered advice for aspiring Canberra exporters.
“The world sees us as an exporter of healthcare expertise,” he said. “But when it all boils down to it, what we believe we export is Australian compassion – making healthcare better for people where others can’t.
“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame lets our team know that what they do everyday matters, wherever they are around the world.”
Mr Armstrong also encouraged Canberra businesses that want to export to be courageous and welcome the opportunity to export.
“Our first contracts were awarded overseas,” he said. “Be brave – you can start life as an exporter, not just grow into it.”
Founded in 2014, Penten is a multi-award-winning Australian-based cybertechnology company focused on innovation in secure mobility, applied artificial intelligence (AI) and tactical communications security.
Its products include AltoCrypt Stik, which secures sensitive information on a USB-size device; AltoCrypt Phone, providing secure chat, voice and mail on a commercial phone; TrapDocs, helping to track unauthorised access to files; and Tactical Communications Security, entirely sovereign communication solutions for battlefield, emergency and disaster situations.
The company, led by CEO Matthew Wilson, works closely with clients to deliver new defence and security technologies.
“It’s moments such as these that allow us to stop and remember how far we’ve come, and all we’ve achieved in only a few short years,” he said.
“Our team has worked so incredibly hard to build the capability we are now providing globally, and I genuinely thank them for their dedication.”
In the past financial year, Penten’s exports were worth $6.3 million, up from $2 million the financial year prior.
During COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, the UK Government sought secure at-home systems for COVID-19-driven remote working. Collaborating with its UK partner, Penten designed, built and shipped its mobility solution in record time, adapting to the challenges of the pandemic.
“We are genuinely lucky to be supported and recognised by the UK Government,” said Mr Wilson. “This support allows us to enable another key partner of Australia and this reflects our purpose.”
Penten currently employs 140 staff and assists clients in more than five countries, including the UK, US, New Zealand and Canada.
Its biggest exporting focus for the future is expanding into the US and maintaining growth in the UK.
Wildbear Entertainment is a content studio that produces factual film and television for broadcast, theatrical and digital distribution, and specialises in compelling true stories that resonate globally.
It was formed in 2014 by the merger of Wild Fury and Bearcage Productions.
Led by CEO Michael Tear, the company brings together expertise in both domestic and international industry, with combined experience of more than 50 years.
Wildbear has been commissioned by leading international platforms including the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery, Netflix, PBS and Disney+, as well as Australian broadcasters Nine, Seven, Ten, ABC, SBS and Foxtel.
The company has continued its growth during the past year, with international revenue climbing 83 per cent in 2019-2020 and total income up 39 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.
It has offices in three Australian capital cities, as well as Dunedin in New Zealand, and also produces media for the government, corporate and educational sectors, and stock footage supply.
Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt said the results showed how far Canberra businesses could go.
“Canberra is a small city, but once again we have shown that our businesses punch well above their weight when it comes to making their mark in global markets,” he said.