By: Conor O’Sullivan, Vice President

The infrastructure most critical to a nation’s continued functioning and survival are the systems, facilities, data, processes and people upon which daily life depends. Amazing to reflect that an estimated 85% of this critical infrastructure in the USA is privately owned or operated. It’s a similar story in other developed nations. Consequently, governments alone cannot protect assets of vital national importance. In an era of constant competition and cyber conflict, they rely on innovation coming out of the commercial sector.

For the past two decades, Paladin has focused on finding the start-ups whose solutions can help both corporate and government customers, that is, ‘dual use’ technologies. One sector where these are widely used is in the space industry. This was recently brought to national attention with a $1B bid by the UK Government, Bharti Global and Hughes Network Systems, for OneWeb, a NewSpace satellite communications operator, that was accepted by a US bankruptcy court.

Bringing broadband-like speeds to users in under-served areas of the world from a constellation of small satellites is one of the hottest areas of competition in the space sector, with the likes of SpaceX, and soon Amazon, building and launching mega-constellations. Prior to seeking bankruptcy protection, OneWeb had raised billions of dollars and launched 74 satellites of a target constellation of 648.

It is rare to see a western Government take a significant, direct stake in such a business. The UK clearly sees it as vital for securing communications access for communities. Another theory behind the bid is that the UK Government will use the OneWeb constellation as an alternative to the navigation signals we rely on today from GPS (US) and Galileo (Europe) satellite constellations, for smartphones, directing air traffic and eventually operating autonomous vehicles. Should the OneWeb constellation be used for this purpose, either in whole or in part, it goes to show the increasing importance of commercially developed technologies to the public sector.

At Paladin we have identified multiple verticals of critical national infrastructure (CNI), from communications, health, energy, finance to transportation. We focus on investing in startups tackling the increasing vulnerabilities of these sectors and their digital platforms in a cyber age, helping to increase their resilience. Our most recent investment in Calypso AI, which provides solutions for commercial and government customers to accelerate their adoption of secure, trusted AI, is a good example of that.

Given Paladin’s combination of a global security and technology expertise, we are uniquely placed to help companies developing and marketing technologies for dual use. If you’re an entrepreneur in this area, please get in touch: cosullivan@paladincapgroup.com.