US-Israel fund to invest in 3 joint homeland security R&D projects

A drone command and control system, a wearable positioning device for first responders, and a video security solution for remote sites will get total of $4.8 million in funding

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustrative photo of firefighters extinguishing a forest fire, April 25, 2016. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of firefighters extinguishing a forest fire, April 25, 2016. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

The Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation will be funding three joint Israel-US homeland security projects.

The projects will be eligible for grants by the foundation and can also access private sector funding, bringing the total value of money for the three projects to some $4.8 million, the foundation said in a statement on Monday.

The projects were selected by the US Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and the Israeli Public Security Ministry and approved by the BIRD Foundation’s board of governors, the statement said.

In the ventures:

• Blue White Robotics (Tel Aviv, Israel) and Easy Aerial (Brooklyn, New York) will jointly develop a multi-mission, multi-type homeland security drone command & control capability.
• 3AM Innovations (Buffalo, New York) and S.H. Goren Management (Emek Hefer, Israel) will complete the development of an indoor positioning wearable for first responders.
• Cawamo (Hod Hasharon, Israel) and LiveView Technologies (Orem, Utah) will develop a fully turnkey AI-based analytics video security solution for remote sites.

Since 2016, the American and Israeli ministries have partnered to fund technology collaborations that address the homeland security needs of both countries and that offer “significant commercial potential,” the statement said.

The joint research program for homeland security currently supports the development of technologies in the following areas: cyber crime; secure critical infrastructure and public facilities; safe and secure cities; border protection; unmanned aerial systems; and technologies for first responders.

“This partnership allows us to find innovative technology solutions for homeland security needs,” said DHS S&T Industry Partnerships director Megan Mahle in the statement. She added that the DHS will be “working closely with the awardees on some of the toughest challenges facing our mission today.”

Dr. Gad Frishman, chief scientist at the Public Security Ministry, said that the BIRD homeland security program “contributes to both countries” by helping the development of innovative technologies for homeland security. The program provides “opportunities to develop technologies that can solve current challenges. The approved projects are a result of a comprehensive selection and review process that focuses on innovation, operational needs and the ability to implement the technologies developed.”

The BIRD Foundation promotes collaborations between US and Israeli companies in various technological fields for the purpose of joint product development. In addition to providing conditional grants of up to $1 million for approved projects, the foundation assists by working with companies to identify potential strategic partners and facilitate introductions.

The foundation seeks to encourage and boost cooperation between US and Israeli companies in a wide range of technology sectors and offers funding to selected projects. Since its establishment in 1977, BIRD has granted $354 million for the joint development of innovative technologies and products, the statement said.

The foundation supports projects without receiving any equity or intellectual property rights in the participating companies or in the projects themselves. The BIRD funding is repaid as royalties from sales of technology products that were commercialized as a result of BIRD support.

The foundation provides funding of up to 50 percent of a project’s budget, beginning with R&D and ending with the initial stages of sales and marketing. It also shares the risk and does not require repayment if the project fails to reach the sales stage.

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