Security in vein: Startup Week Sydney launches with a pitch showcase – StartupSmart

A Sydney startup that wants to make identification as easy as a wave of your hand was one of ten startups given the opportunity to pitch at the NSW Parliament to a room of politicians and industry leaders.


The event on Thursday night marked the launch of StartupWeek Sydney, and gave ten local startups 40 seconds to get their message across and make valuable connections with industry.


The startups on display came from five industries: fintech, energy innovation, transport and logistics, medtech and digital creative.


Ben Melia from identification security startup physiSECURE pitched at the event, and says it was a great experience that resulted in many worthwhile and actionable contacts.


“The response was great,” Melia says. “There were lots of spontaneous conversations with government members that were saying it was cool and wanting to partner with us.”


Identification in the palm of your hand


Sydney-based physiSECURE is a biometric identification organisation providing identification for transactional payments through scanning the veins in an individual’s palm.


Melia says this is a way to avoid the costs and annoyance associated with wallets and cards.


“It really takes away the human losses – we forget stuff all the time, we lose stuff and stuff gets stolen,” he says.


“We realised there was a fundamental gap when it came to identification. If you want to be identified you need to have a range of things – birth certificates, driver’s licences, credits – and everything in your wallet relates to your identification.


“The challenge everyone has it that we forget things and we lose our wallets. The solution is to ask how you can combine these items into something you can’t lose and someone else can’t steal.”


The startup offers hardware and software, with a Fujitsu palm scanner that requires the user to wave their hand over from 5cm away, and backend software that allows for the biometric data security and systems access.


Theoretically this could eventually mean we won’t have to carry around all those pesky identification cards, with the answer literally being in the palm of our hands, Melia says.


“The only thing we can rely on is ourselves and our physical being,” he says. “You don’t know it so you can’t forget it, and you need to be alive and present for it to work.


“We want to reach a point in time when we won’t need wallets and keys, you’ll just need your hands.


“The palm vein technology allows for a scan of the internal structure of the hand and takes about five million points of differential data. Finger prints, which are very legal and identifiable, take about 16 to 24 points. This is much more in-depth and specific.”


The concept, unsurprisingly, comes with a whole heap of privacy and security concerns, but Melia says there are a whole range of fail-safes in place and all the data is encrypted.


Meeting with government and industry


The pitching event at NSW Parliament was an especially useful experience for physiSECURE, with the startup relying on good relationships with government and industry to authenticate the technology and expand it nationally and globally.


The startup’s main focus now is to be compliant with the government’s new National e-Authentication Framework, and are currently in discussions with state governments and even the United Nations.


“We know what we want from an organisational point of view, so this was about how that aligns with government departments,” he says.


“It was really fruitful and made getting to that roadmap much more effective.


“Without this event the government wouldn’t have heard of us. They were all talking about startups afterwards. All these ideas are really disruptive and the startups are doing cool and innovative things, but without these contacts and networking the ideas will just stay there.”


The event was a sign of the NSW government’s increasing focus on tech and innovation, StartupWeek Sydney national manager Michelle Williams says.


“With a new focus on innovation and entrepreneurialism to promote future job growth, Sydney’s startup community has never before enjoyed this level of interest, momentum and support,” Williams says.


The other startups on display:

  • Readable English: online learning and publishing system to learn English
  • You Chews: online platform to organise corporate catering from local food businesses
  • SpeeDx: invents and commercialises technology for the analysis of DNA
  • Psykinetic: social enterprise aiming to use technology to help improve independence and quality of life for people with a disability
  • FreightExchange: automated way for carriers to connect with shippers and manage freights
  • Targ: transports and logistics company aiming to transform safety, productivity and cost performance in containership loading
  • SwitchDin: multi-vendor data integration system for monitoring solar and battery systems
  • Granite Power: harvesting waste heat from industrial sources to generate lower cost electricity
  • Inamo: a way to make secure and cashless payments

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