Mossad launches CIA-style ‘technological innovation fund’

Israeli intelligence agency models its “technological innovation fund” on a similar operation run by the CIA.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Libertad Ventures, a high-tech fund established by the Mossad to help keep its edge over Israel’s enemies with the newest technologies being developed in the start-up world, completed its first round of funding on Sunday, according to Calcalist.

Israel’s vaunted national intelligence agency established the fund just last year, stating at the time that it was searching to support five companies a year with up to NIS 2 million apiece. The fields that interested the Mossad the most in this first round were: high-speed encryption, energy harvesting and self-powered systems, text analysis, robotics, miniaturization, and web intelligence specifically for personality profiling.

In keeping with the nature of the agency, Libertad did not disclose the names of the start-ups it had selected. However, according to its website, Libertad has “a focus on technological research in its early stages” and is seeking “mutually beneficial collaboration and knowledge exchange.”

In a departure from standard procedures in the venture capital world, Libertad does not take equity in return for its funding, according to the website, nor will it demand repayment in royalties. The Mossad will just receive a “non-commercial and non-exclusive license to use the developed IP.”

Mossad chief Yossi Cohen praised the first round of funding.

“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,” he said in a statement. “Our cooperation with civilian companies is excellent and we will continue to strengthen it.”

The CIA’s fund upon which Libertad is modeled is called Q-Tel. It describes itself as the “strategic investor for the US intelligence and defense communities that identifies and adapts cutting-edge technologies.”

Libertad is Latin for “freedom,” and is also the name of a ship that carried Jewish immigrants, which departed Bulgaria in June 1940 and reached mandatory Palestine about a month later.

The fund is expected to put out another call for applications to develop other technologies later this year.