Andre Pienaar Joins LSI Advisory Council

Why I joined the Advisory Council of the Limitless Space Institute

By Andre Pienaar, 20th Nov 2020.

I am honoured to join the Advisory Council of the Limitless Space Institute (LSI) with such an esteemed group of space leaders.

The LSI is a not-for-profit organisation founded by the visionary U.S. space entrepreneur, Dr. Kam Ghaffarian. Dr. Ghaffarian built one of NASA’s largest engineering partners and he is now building some of the leading US companies like Axiom Space and Intuitive Machines. The LSI is led by the distinguished NASA veteran Brian Kelly, who served for 37 years as a leader in NASA and led the NASA’s Human Flight Directorate.

How did I come to be associated with such a distinguished group of space leaders? 

As a venture capital investor, it was the importance of space to cybersecurity- the focus of our investment strategy in C5 Capital- that led me to look deeper into the sector. The US government inextricably linked the terrestrial and the space economies when GPS was made available to provide reliable time, location and navigation to everyone worldwide. Today every aspect of our lives depends on GPS. As a result, space is the strategic high ground of cybersecurity. 

As I studied the space industry, I was thrilled to find the unfolding of a new, exciting era of discovery in space. 

This year, in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the International Space Station (ISS). Humans have now been living and working permanently in space for two decades. 

Whole new worlds are being discovered. Since 1992, astronomers have discovered nearly 4,300 planets outside of our solar system, so called exoplanets. A new analysis of the data collected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope suggest that there are at least 300 million solar systems in our galaxy that have at least one habitable planet and that there could be as many as 2 billion. 

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) discovered its first Earth-size planet in its own star’s habitable zone. The range of distances between the new planet- called TOI 700 d- and its sun is such that it may be just right to allow the presence of liquid water on its surface. 

NASA is working on missions that will return humans to live permanently on the moon and to land humans for the first time on Mars. 

It is an overnight flight from US soil to the ISS. It is a three-day journey to the moon. It takes NASA’s robotic spacecraft seven months to travel to Mars. 

By 2050 humans will have become an interplanetary species with permanent human settlements on the moon and Mars and on multiple orbital space stations in our solar system.

We have had the first unmanned mission leave our solar system- NASA’s Voyager-1- to enter interstellar space after a journey of 25 years in 2012. There are at least 6 others on their way.

We estimate that the nearest solar system to ours- Alpha Centauri B- is 4.3 light years away. Moving beyond our own solar system will be the next generation’s frontier for discovery.

Space exploration today gives us a deeper understanding of the preciousness of our own amazing blue planet, while we grow in knowledge of the limitless possibilities of the unexplored new worlds and resources beyond our own solar system.

The challenge to make deep space exploration sustainable is a challenge of the human spirit. It requires us to inspire and educate a next generation of space leaders, while working through innovation and scientific discovery to equip the next generation with the ability to cross the vast distances of space within a human’s lifespan safely. It is this bold mission that drew me to join the LSI. 

At the core of LSI is a remarkable group of scientists and engineers led by NASA veteran Dr. Sonny White who are thinking out of the box about alternative ways to accelerate space travel safely.

LSI’s global scholarship programme is partnered with universities all over the world to encourage students to help solve some of the hardest challenges of deep space travel.

It is this combination of leading scientists and engineers with young scholars that offers the keys to the future.

The new careers and jobs that the space industry will create as it rapidly grows to be an USD 1 trillion industry is as limitless as the 100,000 light-years expanse of our galaxy. Developing this talent for the future requires the focused inspiration and imagination that LSI provides today.

My childhood in Africa gave me a deep attachment to nature. The majesty of the African sky imbued me with a life-long sense of awe. The African sky is endless, and dramatically beautiful. The sun rises and sets like a huge orange ball of fire. At night the stars gleam and sparkle like polished diamonds against a dark velvet cloth.

By joining the Board of LSI, I hope to help scale access to the limitless possibilities of space and to the greatest adventure of our lifetime- to become an interplanetary people- to young people everywhere, that will take us deeper into these magnificent skies.

LSI Website Andre Pienaar:

Andre Pienaar Twitter: @AndrePienaarC5

Andre Pienaar Website:

Andre Pienaar Biography on LSI Website

How a hospital ransomware attack created a global cyber alliance

The Cyber Alliance to Defend our Healthcare uses Collective Defense to protect vulnerable healthcare organizations

For all intents and purposes, healthcare organizations are functioning in warlike conditions. Not only are they committed to their duties to treat the influx of COVID-19 patients, but also must defend the physical safety of their practitioners while also, incredulously, fighting the unseen battles of cyber attacks. Waves of unscrupulous cyber actors are taking advantage of the pandemic to exploit these organizations, and their patients and staff, when they are most vulnerable. 

As CEO of C5 Capital — an investment firm dedicated to nurturing a secure digital future — I have seen firsthand the tremendous impact of Collective Defense to protect healthcare organizations and their workers against cyber attacks during the pandemic. 

Allow me to tell our story…

It started in March when my cousin called to say the hospital where she works in London was under ransomware attack. Hackers had locked down the intensive care unit to extort a massive ransom from the hospital and the British healthcare system. Until the money was paid, all hospital systems and devices — some of which belonged to employees — would remain locked, preventing patients from receiving the care they so desperately needed. 

At the same time, my cousin had been advised as a frontline healthcare worker to draft her will, given the dire outlook of the pandemic. To see her and her colleagues face a ransomware attack under such horrific circumstances was simply unbearable to watch. We soon recognized the problem spanned the entire healthcare sector, so we decided to take action. 

The Cyber Alliance to Defend Our Healthcare

In response to cyber threats amplified by COVID-19, we created the Cyber Alliance to Defend Our Healthcare, a volunteer organization of cyber professionals formed to protect healthcare workers at our hospitals and clinics as they face the escalating threat of cyber attack. As investors in, and advocates of, IronNet’s collective defense mission and capabilities of IronDome, C5 Capital has established an IronDome to protect hospitals, clinics, and healthcare workers worldwide. C5 works with ITC Secure as the service provider of the Collective Defense solution.

Collective Defense is ideal for digitally transformed hospitals, which have a plethora of connected medical devices and IT infrastructure that present a diverse and widespread attack surface. At the same time, many hospitals and clinics are underfunded and unable to defend themselves against increasingly sophisticated cyber actors. Add the potentially lethal nature of ransomware attacks when lives are on the line and the need for collective defense becomes clear.

With Collective Defense from IronDome, all data that flows anonymously through participating hospitals and clinics is analyzed in real-time to search for suspicious activity. Whenever a suspicious threat is detected, preventative action is taken across the network of hospitals, all the way down the supply chain, to block the attack before it occurs. 

This collaborative approach has completely changed the nature of cybersecurity at these hospitals. Not only does it make them stronger against attack; it also gives employees at these hospitals confidence that they can rely on the systems and the integrity of the systems — and that they are protected. 

Coming together for the health of the future

I am proud to report that more than 30 cybersecurity companies from across the US and Europe are working together in the Cyber Alliance to Defend Healthcare to stop cyber attacks in the healthcare sector. It’s both wonderful and uplifting to see people step forward to help others in a time of crisis. 

The Cyber Alliance currently defends healthcare organizations across the US, UK, and Europe, with interest building in Africa and Asia. Eventually, we intend to go global. 

With IronDome, companies like IronNet are helping to change the nature of cybersecurity and ways to protect patient data and safety. And with its continued support, and the help of the entire Cyber Alliance, we’re determined to end the scourge of cyber attacks against the healthcare sector, and build a stronger future together. 

For more on the Cyber Alliance to Defend our Healthcare and its use of Collective Defense to protect the healthcare sector, watch the on-demand webinar: Funding resilience: A VC’s view on the optimistic future of healthcare and cyber.

Digital Summit Panel- PEWlive

On Wednesday 2nd September I will be a panelist in the Technology Impact Panel at the PEWlive Europe Summit. I look forward to discussing how to achieve Technology Impact in an increasingly competitive marketplace. 

The PEWlive Europe COO/CFO Digital Summit is hosted by #PrivateEquityWire on September 2nd-3rd.

RSVP here:

#PEWliveEurope#VC#leadership#resilience#GPPrivate Equity Wire

House of Commons Defence Sub-Committee Oral Evidence Session

The Security of 5G

The Defence Sub-Committee is established by the Defence Committee of the House of Commons to inquire into topics of its choosing. Its first inquiry was on the security of 5G

The Defence Committee took oral evidence from cyber security experts Andre Pienaar and Emily Taylor on Tuesday 28th April 2020, about the risks to the UK’s 5G network and Huawei’s involvement in telecommunications infrastructure.

The session can be viewed here:

The full report can be accessed here:

Andre Pienaar speaks at the Hoover Institution on Governance In An Emerging New World: Africa

The Hoover Institution hosted a public panel discussion “Africa In An Emerging World” on Monday, January 14, 2019 from 4:00pm – 5:15pm PST.

Africa will be home to much of world’s population growth in coming decades, giving it a young, growing, and increasingly urbanized population. At the same time, it faces economic challenges and will acutely feel the effects of a changing climate. The discussion will explore what these demographic and environmental dynamics, alongside the promise of advancing technologies and new means of communications, will mean for governance and development across the continent.

Moderated by Ambassador George Moose, United States Institute of Peace and former assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

Expected Panelists:

  • Anthony Carroll, Manchester Trade
  • Ambassador Chester Crocker, Georgetown University and former assistant secretary of state for African affairs
  • Mark Giordano, Georgetown University
  • Jack Goldstone, George Mason University
  • Andre Pienaar, C5 Capital
  • Shivani Siroya, founder and CEO of

This event was open to the general public and part of a series led by George P. Shultz whose intention is to learn from our changing world, to map our governance options in response, and to help structure a variety of efforts going forward.

I want to share with you my remarks on Digital Warfare at the Milken Institute Conference, 4th December



The theme of this session was “digital warfare – defending cyber and space.”


Although the word “warfare” sits uncomfortably at a business conference, I want to commend the Milken Institute for the necessary frankness of our theme for today’s session.


We live in an age of unpeace. Whether it is the constant aggression of nation states like Russia and Iran towards the West and our allies, or China’s stated intent to become the AI superpower by 2030 built on what General Keith Alexander describes as the “largest scale theft of IP in history”, we are living with the reality of a digital world at war.


Our theme today is also accurate in its second part- linking the defence of the two crucial domains, space and cyber, together.


I am delighted to see so many members of the US Airforce (USAF) in the audience today. The USAF is the custodian of GPS, which is one of the most critical networks of our global economy, which touches every aspect of our lives, including cyber.


The US Government made GPS available to everyone in 2000 as one of the great global commons- like the internet. GPS was the first step to link the promise of the space economy with the innovation of the terrestrial digital economy. By doing so America has in a characteristically altruistic way enabled significant innovation and economic growth worldwide for everyone.


Today, however, increasingly GPS- like the internet- is being blocked or spoofed by strategic adversaries. We witnessed this vividly during NATO’s recent exercises in Scandinavia when Russian electronic warfare is reported to have disrupted GPS in Finland and Norway. As Nick Shave shared with us today the costs of a GPS outage is calculated at USD 1.5 billion per day to the UK economy exceeding all the damage to date from cyber attacks.


It is therefore no surprise that In the doctrine of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) cyber is regarded as a dimension of space warfare. China sees space as the strategic high ground for cyber warfare.


Winston Churchill reminded us of another important domain when he said that the empires of the future will be empires of the mind.


In the Chinese PLA’s doctrine space is the strategic high ground for cyber, but cyber in turn is the strategic high ground for psychological warfare. The PLA uses cyber for psychological warfare externally to disrupt its adversaries and internally to suppress dissent and to establish social control. These are the new empires of the mind that are being built in an era of great power rivalry.


We often hear comparisons of the innovation economy in the US and the UK with that of China, but it is important to grasp that the Chinese model is a radically different proposition to ours. The application of cyber and AI for internal controls means that China and its close allies are building technology based authoritarianism. This is in sharp contrast to our open systems and the underlying altruism of our innovation economy that enables our freedom of choice, even if the luxury of having so many choices and so much convenience can at times be overwhelming to us.


The ultimate prize in this tournament of shadows is speed. Whoever masters speed will steal a march. And speed is a consequence of cloud based big data that enables machine learning, AI, and ultimately, cognitive systems. Cloud has enabled us to aggregate more data in the last few years than in the preceding 2000 years. This in turn enables us to learn from patterns in data on an unprecedented way. This enables us to bring the transformative power of different forms of AI to bear on real world problems.


As Alex Younger, the Chief of MI-6, said in his recent remarks this is a contest for the future of knowledge itself. In the last 5 years China has invested in more than 60 percent of all AI deals worldwide using its Communist Party controlled platform companies like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT). Russia, lacking similar platforms, will be loser in this new global AI arms race. Russia as a lone wolf, because of its cyber aggression, is destined to become a price taker of Chinese AI technologies.


How do we then defend space and cyber? As Jamil Jaffer of IronNet shared there is only one effective defense model in the 21st in the Century- collective defense. Jamil explained how this can be applied to create a network of networks defence for enterprises and governments based on machine leaning.


Collective defense also means creating new partnerships and alliances. Governments on their own can no longer drive innovation. In this venture capital has a crucial role to play in the private sector working with Enterprises and Governments.


In the West we invested about 4 billion USD in cybersecurity venture capital deals in 2017 and about the same amount in AI venture capital deals. Seventy percent of these VC dollars are invested in the US with the UK following as the next centre of excellence.


This is however not nearly enough. We need to continue to scale the VC dollars that builds innovation in these spaces with new partnerships. Venture capital co-investment is one way to do so whether with Government, for example the UK’s new national security innovation fund, partnering with corporate venture capital or with university endowments.


Collective defense also requires that there must be a point where we draw a line under commercial competition in the national interest and in the interest of the defence of the realm. This is a critical responsibility for us as business leaders. We cannot allow the ruthless pursuit of profit to sabotage critically needed national security innovation to protect our populations and warfighters.


This responsibility is as important as our responsibility as business leaders to state consistently and clearly that we have countries and freedoms worth defending. If we do not shoulder these responsibilities with a sense of urgency, we will have succumbed to our adversaries’ psychological warfare. We will have surrendered our precious freedoms for generations to come.


Finally, we need leadership to build new partnerships and alliances around how we train and find talent, continuously enable a culture of innovation and create the right regulatory frameworks to protect our innovation gains.


As you can see much needs to be done to defend space and cyber. But as General Keith Alexander, the CEO of IronNet, reminds us this fight can be won through collective security. We now have to grab the day.