Seeking 'Unconventional' Technologies, Shin Bet Partners With Private Startups

The startups, chosen from among 100 contenders, focus on areas including artificial intelligence, data-based prediction, automated document scanning and screening out disinformation

A man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017
REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

The Shin Bet security service said Wednesday it has teamed up with seven private Israeli startups to find unconventional approaches to technological challenges. The startups, chosen from among 100 contenders for the maiden Shin Bet accelerator, focus on areas including artificial intelligence, data-based prediction, automated document scanning and screening out disinformation, an agency spokesman said.

“This move reflects our understanding that there are brains on the outside, people who may not have the personality or skills for government employment, but who do have a novel approach and technologies that we might want,” the spokesman said.

Each startup won a $50,000 grant to develop a response for a task set by the Shin Bet, whose roles include counter-espionage, counter-terrorism and security for Israeli government officials and diplomatic missions abroad. Tel Aviv University’s venture capital fund TAU Ventures is also involved in the accelerator.

The Shin Bet’s outreach to the private sector follows a similar move by its overseas intelligence counterpart, the Mossad, which last year set up a fund offering grants of up to 2 million shekels ($548,000) per project to acquire new spy ideas.