Open Innovation Search for Cutting-Edge Counter Terrorism Technologies

Published Mar-08-16

Novel audio intelligence technology wins open innovation contest for solutions to combat terrorism.

Novel audio intelligence technology wins open innovation contest for solutions to combat terrorism., United States

The Story:

Open Innovation Search for Cutting-Edge Counter Terrorism Technologies Terrorism is a complex and constantly evolving threat as those who seek to do harm develop more sophisticated modes of attack. In this ever-changing environment, the tools and approaches to detect, prevent and defeat terrorism must also evolve. To help achieve these aims, some in the defense community are turning to open innovation, reaching out to previously untapped sources for new perspective and solutions.

Inaugural Startup Challenge

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in partnership with the MIT Enterprise Forum of Israel launched the Combating Terrorism Technology $100K Startup Challenge. The open innovation contest sought the most innovative technology coming from Israeli startups for combating terrorism.

Although the defense department continues to work with defense contractors and others through standard channels, it realizes the potential gains that can be achieved by casting the net as wide as possible.

One of the reasons why the challenge was directed at Israeli startups, is that according to defense officials, Israel develops solutions and gets them into the field faster than other countries.

Technology to Fight Terrorism

In the first round of this open innovation challenge, 43 startups made submissions, from which eight were selected for the next and final round. These were invited to pitch their breakthrough technologies to a panel of international judges at the 2015 Combating Terrorism Technology Conference, held at Tel Aviv University.

Among the finalists were:

• MicroSpark for their Explosive Trace Detection technology that can detect nanograms of
energetic material (regardless of chemical makeup or whether it’s a recognized or new
compound) in under a second.

• ThirdEye for their man-portable tactical sensor that automatically and reliably detects human

• VBact for their development of novel real-time solutions for bacteria detection in water and
other environments.

Addressing the finalists, Ambassador Dan Shapiro, said:

“The Startup Challenge is a creative endeavor, which seeks to harness the energies of small groups and companies to help stay ahead of the ever-evolving threats we face from terrorists and criminals.

“Terrorist groups such as ISIS have shown themselves to be “learning” organizations, to which our response must be, to simply learn faster than the terrorists, something you all are helping us do.”

After his speech, the ambassador announced the overall winner of the $100,000 prize, technology startup InSoundz. They won for a technology that provides actionable audio intelligence to the security market. It helps to block out background noise and focus in on a specific sound of interest in a noisy environment.

Open Innovation Opportunities

In addition to the prize money, the open innovation competition gave all participants the opportunity to gain exposure to high level decision makers in the defense sector. And in the search for cutting-edge technologies, open innovation will continue to be one route by which defense departments seek to acquire and develop innovations to combat terrorism.

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