Israel and U.S. inaugurate a joint cybersecurity initiative

Program fosters American and Israeli partnerships to protect vital infrastructure.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Israeli and American governments have launched a joint program to fund new cybersecurity companies to help protect vital infrastructure in both countries.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) will run the initiative through the U.S.-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation.

While BIRD has been funding projects in the virtual realm for years, this program will specifically target cybersecurity.

“The joint investment in public-private partnerships should advance innovative and jointly developed technologies to bring the next generation solutions for national-level cybersecurity,” said INCD Director General Gaby Portnoy.

There are four areas of interest in its first call for proposals: protection of control systems of such critical utilities as water, oil, gas, and transportation; vulnerability assessment and management of attacks on small to medium airports and seaports; monitoring, detection and response centers capable of serving hundreds of small and medium businesses each; and developing architecture that can collect data from myriad sources to identify threats and orchestrate security against them.

The projects must be a collaborative effort between a company and university/research institution, with one of them being based in Israel and the other in the United States. The winning projects will receive a maximum of $1.5 million each, which can be no more than 50% of the companies’ combined Research and Development budget.

“Our department is committed to direct operational collaboration with our international partners and the private sector to address the most pressing cybersecurity challenges,” said DHS Under-Secretary for Policy Robert Silvers. “Through the BIRD Cyber program, DHS and INCD will harness the innovation and ingenuity of the Israeli and American technology sectors to drive security and resilience.”

While BIRD was established 45 years ago to help joint American-Israeli companies and institutions achieve commercial success in diverse fields including agriculture, energy, communications and construction technologies, it began a special initiative in the homeland security sector in 2016 together with Israel’s Public Security Ministry.

Past support in this area has gone to technologies in such areas as cyber-crime, border protection, unmanned aerial systems, and wearable technologies for first responders.

The deadline for submitting summaries of the proposals is November 15, 2022.

The projects will be selected in March of next year.