The one thing that all the Bond movies have showcased is that access to cutting-edge technology gives one an edge over enemies. From remote-controlled cars to spy cameras to listening devices, intelligence agencies continuously need to up their game. The Israel Security and Intelligence Service, better known as the Mossad, has started Libertad, a technological innovation fund.
“With a focus on technological research and development enterprises, Libertad seeks to strengthen both startup companies and the Mossad’s knowledge base, operating at the forefront of technological innovation,” claims the Libertad website.
In Latin, Libertad means “freedom”, and driving on this idea, the innovation fund wants to give startups the freedom to build and develop cutting-edge technology with Mossad’s help.
Mossad is looking at specific sectors such as energy, encryption, and robotics. From flexible robotics, land, sea, and air silencing solutions, biometrics and miniaturized systems, things that will help in making intelligence gathering better – all are on Mossad’s list. They are also on the lookout for encrypted technologies to “encrypt information at high speed (100 Gbps or higher), using unconventional, groundbreaking methods”.
Given that they are affiliated with an intelligence agency and startups may have concerns about working with them, the Libertad addresses these issues in a Q&A format. Mossad has kept a simple six-page contract for startups to sign, with the promise that they will not be publicizing the names of the company they invest in. Also, any technology that is developed will be implemented by Mossad, “in cooperation between the parties”. While their investment is equity-free, Mossad will, in return for the investment, have “access to the intellectual property created during the funded development program, by means of a non-commercial and non-exclusive license to use the IP”.
Each R&D project stands to gain up to NIS 2,000,000 from Mossad. As for larger and unusual projects, the investment may go up further. According to Mossad, the investment will be materialized upon “the signing of the agreement in four predetermined technological milestones, over a two-year period – at most”.
Intelligence agencies and military such as the CIA have in the past – and still do – invest in cutting-edge technology. Startups building products and technology that help spy agencies do better are in demand. With technology driving the world, this is one sector startups can look at, that is also making intelligence better and better.