Israel-US foundation commits $2.75m. to three first responder projects

An unmanned search and rescue system, better broadband communication, and autonomous drones gain funding.

Paving the way for new technologies that could better protect and connect first responders, the Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation is awarding $2.75 million to three homeland security projects in the sector.
The joint Israeli-American projects, selected by the US Department of Homeland Security and the Israeli Public Security Ministry, will each receive conditional grants of up to $1m. to address some of the most pressing needs of first responders, the foundation announced on Monday. The collaborators will also have access to private sector funding, boosting the total value of all the projects up to $7m., the foundation said.
For the second year in a row, the grants are being awarded as part of BIRD's "Next Generation First Responder Technologies" program, which aims to provide support for ventures that could potentially increase the safety and efficiency of all first responders. 
“I am delighted to have this opportunity to work with the Israeli Ministry of Public Security and the BIRD Foundation to bring the best of US and Israeli technology companies together to develop capabilities to support our first responders," said William N. Bryan, acting under secretary for the US Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate. "First responders across the world share common needs and capabilities, and the benefits of these partnership activities will enhance first responders’ safety and effectiveness across the globe.”
The first of the three ventures to receive funding will be a collaboration between Ramat Gan-based Beeper Communications Israel and Germantown, Maryland-based Mantaro Networks Inc. to create an unmanned search and rescue system.
The second partnership, between Netanya-based Elbit Systems Land and C4I Ltd. and Bellevue, Washington-based M87, Inc., will focus on strengthening off-network broadband communications for public safety purposes. The companies will be developing systems that rely on "multi-hop" technology – those that use several "hops," or paths between source and destination – by means of WiFi, LTE and device-to-device communications. 
Lastly, Petah Tikvah-based Simlat, Ltd. and Dayton, Ohio-based Sinclair Community College will be working on a search and rescue solution that employs an autonomous drone.
“The Office of the Chief Scientist sees the cooperation with the BIRD Foundation as one of the main mechanisms to develop and commercialize innovative Israeli technologies which will enhance the emergency preparedness abilities of First Responders," said Gad Fishman, chief scientist of the Public Security Ministry. "The process of identifying the needs and selecting projects in cooperation with the US Department of Homeland Security allows for mutual benefit and paves the way for success.”
Established in 1977 with grants from the US and Israeli governments, the larger BIRD Foundation is managed cooperatively by the Economy Ministry’s Israel Innovation Authority and the US National Institute of Standards and Technology. Over its 40-year history, BIRD has invested more than $340m. in some 940 industrial projects, yielding more than $10 billion in direct and indirect revenue. The foundation generates its funding income from repayments by successful projects, as well as interest earned on endowment grants.
“This second cycle of projects relating to first responder technologies reflects the potential of Israeli and American companies to jointly develop products and technologies that will keep tomorrow's first responders more protected, connected and fully aware," said Eitan Yudilevich, executive director of the BIRD Foundation. "We look forward to continue working closely with DHS and MOPS to foster and facilitate partnerships that respond to the capability gaps that exist in this market.”
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