Malcolm Turnbull signs on to help AI-powered startup Advanced Navigation go global

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Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull at the 199th Birthday lunch for the Westpac Banking Group in 2016. Source: AAP/Dean Lewins.

Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has joined the board of directors of space and transportation startup Advanced Navigation.

Founded in 2012 by Xavier Orr and Chris Shaw, Advanced Navigation provides navigation software that uses artificial intelligence neural networks.

The tech has applications in things like underwater acoustics, GPS, radio frequency systems and robotics, as well as space mapping.

The Sydney-based startup now has more than 1000 customers across 70 countries, including the likes of Boeing, Tesla and NASA.

In 2019, Advanced Navigation bagged $20 million in a Series A round led by CSIRO’s venture fund Main Sequence.

Turnbull will serve as a director on the board, with his appointment intended to help accelerate the business’ international growth.

“As we continue to expand our business into more markets, Mr Turnbull’s perspective gained from his extensive and impressive career will be a guiding hand for our future endeavours,” Shaw said in a statement.

Turnbull himself added that he is “delighted” to take up the role, and suggested the startup could play a role in shining a spotlight on Aussie tech capabilities.

“Advanced Navigation demonstrates how innovative Australian science and engineering can develop world’s best autonomous navigation technology — so important as adversaries increasingly challenge wireless connectivity,” he said.

“I know from my direct experience how our friends and allies trust Australian technology and look forward to helping the team accelerate the global deployment,” he added.

Serving as Prime Minister between 2015 and 2018, Turnbull launched Australia’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, as well as the nation’s first Cybersecurity Strategy.

While much of his support for the tech industry has since been ditched, he remains personally committed to the cause.

Through the investment company he runs alongside his wife Lucy Turnbull, he has invested in another space startup, Myriota, as well as in medtech startup HealthMatch, and Cado Security, a UK-based digital forensics platform.

Advanced Navigation chief revenue officer John Colvin said Turnbull is “a welcome addition” to the board, bringing “a wealth of knowledge, experience and credibility as we enter into our next growth phase of the business”.

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