Mossad sets up fund to invest in startups

Libertad Photo: Company film

The Libertad fund will invest in five startups each year in areas relevant to the Mossad's operations.

The Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations (the Mossad) today launched Libertad - its new fund for investing in technological innovation. The fund will be involved in research and development for new technologies.

The fund is contacting civilian startups and asking for proposals for the development of content technologies of interest to the Mossad in its regular work. Those selected will receive investments of up to NIS 2 million per venture. In certain cases, the fund plans to invest larger amounts in various R&D ventures. The fund announced that in any case, it would not disclose the names of the companies it supports.

The areas of interest to the Mossad included in the first appeal published by the new investment fund are breakthrough technologies in flexible robotics; miniaturized systems; navigability solutions and silencing solutions in the air, land and sea; innovative technologies offering solutions for expanding the scope of operations or reducing their dimensions; new high-speed information encryption technologies using methods described as "unconventional and pioneering;" technologies for automated identification of personal characteristics, based on online patterns of operation and behavior; and automated methods for summarizing documents, cataloging, extracting entities and semantic connections, etc.

Libertad said today that the Mossad would add more fields of interest from time to time, and that these would be published in the framework of its future solicitations, in accordance with its missions and needs. The fund added, "The Mossad faces difficult and dynamic challenges on a large number of fronts, and at the present time, technology is one of its main growth engines, and constitutes a basis for intelligence and operational successes and achievements."

In return for Mossad support through the Libertad fund for development ventures lead by a startup, the Mossad will receive licenses to use the technologies developed. At the same time, the companies themselves will benefit from business and commercial freedom of action. No restrictions whatsoever will be placed on the developments, nor will the companies be required to pay royalties to the Mossad or the state. The contract itself between Libertad and the startups operating under its sponsorship will be simple and clear, and the fund says, "We are aware that this is the way to work with companies of this type."

A, a senior officer in the Mossad technology department, told "Globes" today that the fund would be led by a team to be appointed within the organization, whose job it would be to assess each proposal reaching it from the startups and select the projects suitable for the Mossad's current or future needs. "Today, we are already working with the local industries on a large scale, but our activity is not focused on startups with an idea for a product, and we do not invest in them," the officer said.

The fund plans to invest in five projects a year involving technological developments useful to the Mossad. "Establishing such a fund is a significant event," Prime Minister's Office director general Eli Groner said. "This did not happen easily. We examined various models in recent months according to two guiding principles: to provide the Mossad with access to advanced technologies relevant to the organization's dynamic needs, while at the same time not detracting from the business development of those companies, since the companies involved are just beginning."

Groner is convinced that the fact that the Mossad's fund is supporting startups that are just starting out can strengthen those companies later on. "The CIA in the US did something very similar with a local company in the US 15 years ago, and the company has grown and prospered greatly since then. Comparable intelligence agencies around the world are also searching for good methods for working with their private sectors. In contrast to many other countries in the world, our ecosystem is the most dynamic and lively, and we want to ensure that the Mossad will derive the maximum benefit from it, and be in the forefront of technology," Groner explained.

Libertad said today that any company or entrepreneur could contact it with a proposal for development of a venture, and that no security or military background was required, but that if there was any such background, it would be an advantage. The fund added, "Only proposals suitable to the organization's needs will receive a response."

According to the fund, the ventures that will receive its support and operate under its sponsorship will be free to raise additional capital for expediting their activity from other investors unrelated to the Mossad or the state. If necessary, the fund stated that it would itself come to the startups' aid in raising additional investments.

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on June 27, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

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Libertad Photo: Company film
Libertad Photo: Company film
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