Mossad venture arm makes first investments in spy tech

Mossad venture arm makes first investments in spy tech

Intelligence agency does not reveal name of startups, says they are expected to supply their technologies in 2018-19

The Mossad stand at Cybertech 2017 (Courtesy: Gilad Kavalerchik)
The Mossad stand at Cybertech 2017 (Courtesy: Gilad Kavalerchik)

Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, said its new technological innovation fund has completed a first round of investments in Israeli startups that have the potential to help the agency in its covert operations, to meet existing and future challenges.

The Mossad did not reveal the names of the firms it invested in, nor the invested amount, but said that the companies in which the fund invested in the first round were chosen after analyzing their potential, adapting the technologies to the needs of the organization and assessing the contribution the investment would make to both the entities. In its call for applications, the agency received many requests from startups in a wide range of fields and in various stages of development, the agency said.

The Mossad set up Libertad in June 2017, saying it will not expect to receive a stake in the firms into which it will inject funds, and there will be no restrictions on the intellectual property of the technologies developed, which will belong to the startup. The Mossad will also not require royalty payments from the companies. In return for the investment, however, the Mossad will get a license to use the technology developed.

Technology is already one of the organization’s main growth engines, the Mossad said at the time.

The “breakthrough technologies” will “expand the capabilities of the institution and will position it in a better place to deal with the challenges of the future,” Mossad chief Yossi Cohen said in a statement released on Sunday.

The selected companies are expected to work on their research and development projects and deliver their products to the agency during 2018-19.

The Mossad, the Shin Bet security agency and even the Israeli army are stepping out of the shadows and opening up to working with civilian firms, as greater cooperation is needed to win battles that are moving from the field into the cyber sphere. Both the Mossad and theShin Bet security service openly take part in cyber events in Tel Aviv to recruit new talent for their technology units. They are also struggling to retain skilled employees, as the tech sector of the startup nation and its high salaries are drawing the best of talent.

At the time of setting up Libertad, the Mossad said its areas of interest are: robotic technologies in the various fields for use at land, sea, and air; energy and battery technologies; tools to allow encryption of information at high speeds; software to identify personality traits, for the purpose of personality profiling, based on online behavior and activity; machine learning and automation to help summarize documents and catalog and process data in Hebrew and other languages.

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