Start-up spies? Mossad enters the world of venture capitalism

The fund, named Libertad Ventures, is expected to put out another call for applications to develop cutting-edge technology for its spying purposes, later this year.

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March 12, 2018 11:22
2 minute read.

Libertad - The Mossad Technological Innovation Fund

Libertad - The Mossad Technological Innovation Fund

 
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Israel's secret spy agency, the Mossad, announced on Sunday that it had successfully finished its first round of start-up investments.

The fund, named Libertad Ventures, is expected to put out another call for applications to develop cutting-edge technology for its spying purposes, later this year.

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In June, the fund was made public for the first time and previous announcements have indicated that it would invest NIS 10 million per year in five companies following a similar model to the CIA in this arena.

The CIA’s parallel outfit is called Q-Tel, which is defined as the “strategic investor for the US intelligence and defense communities that identifies and adapts cutting-edge technologies.”

Mossad director Yossi Cohen praised the first round of funding, saying: “In Israel, there is cutting-edge technology which will widen the envelope from which the Mossad operates and will place it in a better position to confront future challenges. Our cooperation with civilian companies is excellent and we will continue to strengthen it.”

Those start-ups already selected by the Mossad are expected to execute their research and development plans in 2018-2019 and to provide the Mossad with the results of their efforts with no licensing or other conditions of use between the parties.

Libertad was established to achieve the strategic goal of building long-term advanced technological capabilities and to take advantage of Israel’s innovative and creative hi-tech atmosphere.



The initial round of applications was focused in five areas identified by the Mossad, but the Mossad also got applications in other areas from companies all over the world.

Initially, the Mossad called for proposals in the fields of robotics, energy, encryption, web intelligence and big data and text analysis.

A Mossad official previously explained that it was not revealing anything by publicizing an interest in these fields since it is obvious that these are areas where intelligence agencies seek advanced options.

Candidates who applied ranged from individuals with big ideas to established large technology companies looking to partner with an institution like the Mossad with considerable resources.

Those candidates which were selected by the Mossad for funding were picked based on their ideas, the practicability of their concepts and whether they were judged as being able to tie into the Mossad’s system of operations in a seamless a way as possible.

A video on the front page of Libertad’s web page shows off a fake contact lens technology used by a woman at a cafe to snap photos of persons walking by after which she connects up with facial recognition software to identify her target. The advertisement ends with her winking to send an email to her Mossad superiors that she is executing the mission.

Libertad means and symbolizes freedom, as in freedom of innovation.

It is also the name of a boat which in June 1940 brought Jews from Varna, Bulgaria to Mandatory Palestine where they were arrested.

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