Following a story on our site about an Israeli startup called DBS which has developed a technology that uses biosensors and digital signal processing analysis to determine whether a watchdog is merely responding to routine events or to someone penetrating its territory, Reuters incorporated the information into a story about Israeli companies who are focusing on the U.S. security market. The story was picked up by Forbes, Wired.com and other media outlets.
Following is the Reuters story.
Israeli High Tech Targets U.S. Security Market
By Gwen Ackerman
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – From software that can “translate” a guard dog’s bark to lasers that sniff out explosives, Israel is banking on years of defense expertise to give it an edge in a burgeoning U.S. security market.
Israeli ingenuity in cross-the-board technologies and an ability to quickly turn an idea into a product is seen likely to return the country’s industry to prominence in a world obsessed by security.
“Israel has a 30-year lead over the rest of the world,” said Dan Inbar of the Homeland Security Research Corporation, a California-based consultancy that predicts the United States will spend at least $130 billion on homeland security by 2010.
Israel has been dealing with issues such as plane hijackings since the late 1960s, but for its technology to win contracts on the fierce government-contract market today, it has to compete with U.S. firms with which Washington is more comfortable.
Near Tel Aviv, an Israeli start-up has developed a technology that uses biosensors and digital signal processing analysis to determine whether a watchdog is merely responding to routine events or to someone penetrating its territory.
“We got the idea during our military service,” said Eyal Zahavi, chief executive of DBS Watchdog Alarm Systems. “We recognized the need for security and worked from the ground up.”
Actimize, another start-up, has developed a surveillance platform to analyze suspicious patterns such as the same cellphones appearing together in various cities around the world. The Nahal Sorek nuclear research center south of Tel Aviv has developed an instrument that uses a laser’s ultra-violet spectrum to detect dynamite from a distance of eight feet. The project was launched in the 1990s to detect explosives being smuggled into Israel.
Israel’s technology sector, considered one of the world’s Silicon Valleys, served as a main engine of economic growth in the 1990s.
Scores of successful start-ups in the software and telecommunications industries sprouted and sold products worldwide before the global high-tech collapse in 2001.
ISRAELI GOVERNMENT GRANT PROGRAM
With an eye on future profits in the emerging security market, Israel’s minister of science and technology, Eliezer Sandberg, launched a grant program this year to encourage the country’s researchers to focus on solving security problems.
“The idea is to direct research by handing out grants to areas where we think there will be economic benefit,” he said.
Tal Keinan, director for homeland security technology at Giza Venture Capital, said the market’s future would largely be driven by efforts to prevent attacks on the scale of the September 11, 2001 suicide-hijackings in the United States.
He said the level of public fear over security, balanced against civil liberties issues, could set the tone for the market.
“If there is not another attack, this could be a smaller opportunity than we thought,” Keinan said.
Even if the homeland security market sees mushroom-like growth, Israeli companies will still have to get around bias against foreign companies in the United States, he said.
Some of the Israeli-developed security solutions are more secretive than others and include ways to counter the missile threat against civilian airliners.
“The Israeli government has been a customer of this kind of thing for a long time, doing homeland security even before it was called that,” said Keinan. With their headstart, Israeli companies could enjoy an edge over competitors.
For Israel, he said, “terrorism is not virgin territory.”