1205 words | 7 minutes
By: Randy Gaudreau
As vehicles of all types continue to become more and more connected, they’re also becoming increasingly vulnerable to cybersecurity threats.
While the focus of the mobile cybersecurity industry in recent years has centred on providing cloud-based services to the commercial automotive market, the needs of other industries such as marine are starting to emerge as they too look for safety solutions to help face the increased cybersecurity threat to their vessels and expensive cargo.
After proving its innovation for a self-healing real-time cybersecurity solution for cars and trucks, Akimbo Technologies is moving into a new, expanded location in Kanata’s Tech Park on August 1st to expand its footprint in Ottawa as it eyes new potential marine applications for its technology.
And it’s on the lookout for new team members who can help.
A unique “deep tech” solution with big scale-up potential
Designed originally for the automotive market, Akimbo Technology’s patented DEFENSA software detects, corrects, and heals cybersecurity threats in real-time, without needing a cloud connection or using machine learning or artificial intelligence.
DEFENSA is able to “heal” system cyberattacks without providing false positives or negatives – meaning it won’t raise any false alarms and it won’t flag that something is missing when it isn’t.
As Akimbo’s Chief Revenue Officer Rod Weir explains, being able to function in real-time without having to rely on a cloud connection is what makes DEFENSA unique as a “deep tech” solution for vehicle safety.
“I have done dozens of presentations around the world, and not one person has heard of our approach before, ever. So, we are innovative, and it’s very exciting,” Rod said.
“We have two patents with more to come.”
Discovering the opportunity of marine applications
Over the past two years, Akimbo Technologies has earned a track record with the federal government in providing solutions for the mobility industry. In 2019, it signed a $1 million contract with Transport Canada and successfully delivered a prototype proving its patented concept for a self-healing, cybersecurity system for cars and trucks.
According to Rod, DEFENSA software can be added to existing vessels that are already in use on an inline appliance, making it an ideal and affordable way for commercial, search and rescue, and military vessels to add a layer of cybersecurity that can protect them in remote seas or in hostile environments.
But according to Rod, Akimbo soon after proved its technology could be useful beyond the automotive world. After learning that marine vessels were feeling very exposed to cyberattacks and facing steep cybersecurity insurance premiums, Rod realized that Akimbo’s technology was well positioned to help address these emerging and pressing concerns.
“In the marine industry, this realization, this vulnerability, is just really coming to the front, and we are seeing ourselves as very well positioned,” he said.
“The network that’s in a ship is very similar to a network that’s in a car, so we ported it over,” he said. “That ability to go to an existing ship and add our solution to make it cyber resilient is novel and hugely compelling.”
Applying DEFENSA to marine vessels
As a result of doing a proof of concept demonstrating a marine use case, Akimbo Technologies was recently awarded another $1,000,000 contract, this time with the Canadian Department of National Defense. This shift in focus to marine applications is opening up new opportunities to fuel the growth of Akimbo and provide new opportunities for tech talent looking to help out.
“That particular project is really what’s driving our hiring right now, and that is what’s driven the addition of the two most recent people in Ottawa,” he said.
According to Rod, it’s all part of an overall realization of the importance of Canada’s marine management programs, pointing to the government’s recent commitment of an additional $2 billion as part of Canada’s Oceans Protections Plan to expand ocean protection and marine safety initiatives.
“The momentum in marine is unstoppable and it really drives the economy of the entire world,” he said. “Canada has a vested role to increase its marine programs, and we’re part of that wave. The true opportunity is global.”
And according to Rod, the need for a plug-and-play real-time cybersecurity solution for marine presents an incredible opportunity for the growing company.
They’re ready for it,” he said, “they’re needing it, and their ability to add it is there. So, we now are thinking, let’s go, let’s add the fuel we need. Let’s add the right people, and let’s go do it.”
If you’re interested in joining Akimbo Technologies in their mission to provide security and safety by design, we thought we’d include three more reasons to join the growing Akimbo Technologies team that came up during our interview.
Join an innovative company on the starting line
Although Akimbo is currently a small team of seven, their big ideas have earned them two major contracts from the Department of Defense and Transport Canada, which Rod points out just shows the power of Akimbo’s innovation and the growth potential of the company.
“For governments to decide that our solution would warrant that from a relatively small team, that’s a pretty big testament,” Rod pointed out. “You could almost think of it like you’re on the starting line, waiting for the gun to go off. And I think for someone in tech, that would be exciting.”
Work to develop embedded systems – not an app:
Part of the appeal for tech talent Rod says, is having the chance to work on and contribute to “patent-worthy” embedded systems that are taking novel approaches to solving real problems.
“There is nothing in the world that we’ve encountered yet that does what we do,” he said. “And it’s not an app. It’s patent worthy. When we present it, we get accolades because it is novel, and decision-makers recognize it is needed.”
Do work you can be proud of
Rod says that providing solutions that help military vessels in their marine operations provides a rare and unique opportunity to be proud of the work you’re contributing to with Akimbo.
“It’s a protection of those who are trying to protect us,” Rod explained. “And I think that’s pretty cool. We can protect the personnel, we can protect the asset, the vehicle that they’re in, and we can check whatever their cargo may be.”
“You don’t have to mumble when you’re at a cocktail party”, he added. “You can say, well, this is what I do. And I think you can be loud and proud on it because I think that we’re pursuing a very admirable goal.”
What makes a good fit?
As far as key attributes that they’re looking for in candidates to join the team, Rod highlighted someone who’s excited at the idea of being part of innovation with a high potential startup, which comes with “an opportunity to be heard, and to innovate and invent rather than just deliver what you’re told.”
As far as technical requirements, he noted that previous experience working on real-time operating systems, “is a biggie” given Akimbo’s work in perfecting dynamic fault tolerance.
Currently Open Positions:
Looking to join the Akimbo Technologies team in Ottawa? Keep an eye on their careers page.
To get more inside information on opportunities in Ottawa’s tech industry, be sure to follow the Work in Ottawa LinkedIn page.