Nurturing Israel's Innovative Solutions in Homeland and Cyber Security


An Interview with Avi Hasson Chief Scientist, Ministry of Industry Trade and Labor
"Israel is a global leader in harnessing technological capabilities to protect people and property, borders, infrastructures and facilities, and increasingly in recent years, computer networks," said Avi Hasson, Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. "In the decade since 9/11, we have seen more program funding requests for Homeland Security applications, and in recent years Cyber Security has become a top national priority for Israel in particular and the global community in general."
Mr. Hasson stressed that Israel has clear advantages in helping the world to overcome the growing need of protection against terror and crime. He said, "Because of our geo-political situation and many years of painful and painstaking experience in battling terror, on one hand, and our high-tech capabilities on the other hand, we are able to develop systems and solutions that have proven themselves in real-time."
He explained that the Israeli government through the Ministry of Defense and Israel Defense Forces as well as government owned companies such as Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems have led the way in developing a range of sensors, radars, and C4 systems to protect borders and facilities against terror attacks as well as making civil aviation safer. Additional Israeli privatelyowned companies also lead in high-tech Homeland Security solutions that combine C4 systems, sensors, video-surveillance and much more, to protect people and property.
Mr. Hasson added that the Government is also leading efforts to enhance cyber-security. He said, "We at the OCS have a central role to play here because these areas are very research intensive and require major investments in research and development and we can help companies in setting up beta sites and in bringing together academia and industry."

Implementing Government Policy The Office of the Chief Scientist implements government policies designed to support and encourage high added-value industrial R&D and enhance the knowledge base of Israel's high-tech industries.
The programs implemented by the Office of the Chief Scientist have played a major role in enabling Israel to emerge as a global high-tech hub. A range of R&D grants, funds and other supportive means, enable the Israeli Government to share the risks inherent in developing new ideas and bringing them to market.
The OCS also promotes extensive cooperation of international industrial R&D, in both bilateral and multilateral frameworks that facilitate opportunities for Israeli companies to develop strategic relationships worldwide.
Mr. Hasson said, "We provide a holistic response to developing homeland and cyber-security systems and solutions, which supports basic academic research and inter-disciplinary development. We administer many homeland security projects at our national network of incubators, and grants for beta-site projects."
The MAGNET program which brings together academia and industry to promote generic R&D currently has two consortia of universities and companies developing homeland and cyber security solutions.
In video-surveillance technology VULCAN (Video Understanding Learning Content and Notification) offers a focused and more independent way to access more effective, real-time, offline, automated analysis of video surveillance data.
Led by NICE Systems, the consortium includes Elbit Systems, RAFAEL, Verint, HTS, ProTrack and RTCVision as well as researchers at the Weizmann Institute, the Technion, University of Haifa, Bar-Ilan University and Hebrew University.
RESCUE - Rapidly Deployable Communication Infrastructure for Rescue Forces is another MAGNET consortium, while a more recently established MAGNET consortium is called CYBER. As the name suggests, it is coordinating a consortium for the development of cyber defense and the ability to identify sources of network level attacks. Led by Verint Systems, the consortium includes NICE, Elbit, Rafael, Commtouch, Radware, C4 Security and Secure Islands Technologies, along with 30 professors from Israel's leading universities.
Mr. Hasson assumed the role of Chief Scientist in early 2011 after more than a decade as a venture capital General Partner at the Gemini Israel Funds where he also served as a director of ICT portfolio companies. Prior to his time at Gemini, Mr. Hasson spent a decade as an executive in leading telecommunications companies, where he fulfilled several roles in the field of marketing and business development.

Bilateral R&D Funds The OCS has also set up a global infrastructure of bilateral R&D funds which began with the US BIRD (Bi-national Industrial R&D Foundation) and now encompasses similar funds with the Canada-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (CIIRDF), the Singapore- Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (SIIRD) that was set up in the mid 1990s, and the Korea-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (KORIL-RDF). These funds have ploughed millions of dollars into projects that match up Israeli high-tech firms and overseas partners.
He said, "In total we have some 40 bilateral R&D agreements with countries worldwide. We are also in talks with some Indian states needing homeland security solutions, and we expect the topic to feature prominently in the years to come."
These bilateral agreements and funds are implemented through MATIMOP – The Israeli industry Center for R&D.
Mr. Hasson said, "We are also mulling bilateral activities with Brazil to help secure the World Cup in 2014 and Olympics in 2016 through our safe city systems, while at home as part of our MEIMAD program for encouraging R&D use for dual technologies with civil and military applications we are working with the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Finance to fund small and medium enterprises."
He concluded, "Technology has opened new horizons but also new perils and Israel has a major role to play through its Homeland and Cyber Security capabilities, to ensure that the continually growing problem of technological threats is countered."