20 Finalists Chosen for 2018 Combating Terrorism Technology Startup Challenge

The contest received 210 entries, which is double the number of entries received in the last challenge, held in 2016. 130 of the entries were for the General Technologies track, and 80 were for the Urban Navigation track (technologies for navigating without GPS). The startups will vie for prizes of $220,000

RoboSleeve, one of the CTTSC3 finalists, developed a multi-mission sleeve platform equipped with cameras and sensors (PR photo)

Twenty startups were chosen from amongst 210 companies to compete for the $220,000 in prizes at CTTSC3 – the 2018 Combating Terrorism Technology Startup Challenge. The contest is organized by the US Department of Defense, Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), together with the Israel Ministry of Defense, Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D, aka MAFAT), and the MIT Enterprise Forum of Israel. CTTSC3 is a unique contest to identify startups with technologies that can help defeat terrorism.

The finalists will present live at the "Combating Terrorism Technology Conference," on the first day of CyberWeek (June 17, 2018), at Tel Aviv University.

The contest received 210 entries, which is double the number of entries received in the last challenge, held in 2016. 130 of the entries were for the General Technologies track, and 80 were for the Urban Navigation track (technologies for navigating without GPS). The entries were reviewed by 55 evaluators from US and Israeli Government agencies, such as the US Defense Department, the US Department of Homeland Security, the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Israel Police, etc. This year, an especially broad variety of startups participated in the competition, representing 60 different technology and application domains, including big data, social media, biometrics, computer vision, video analytics, observation systems, drones, robotics, chemical/bio/nuclear detection, cyber, emergency medicine, and many more.

Prominent Trends

One major trend this year is the explosion in technologies for analyzing social media and online behavior. In particular, this year saw behavioral science being married with AI and embedded in powerful mobile technology. A second trend is the continued growth of drone-related technologies which this year represented the largest category of entries. Of particular note was the growth in counter-drone solutions. On the other hand, kinetic weapons-related technologies (advanced weapons, sights, etc.) generated fewer entries than in prior years. There were also fewer cyber entries, and those that were received tended to incorporate hardware appliances rather than being purely software-based.

Entries for the navigation technologies exceeded all expectations. Navigating in urban environments where GPS may be unavailable or jammed is critical but extremely challenging for soldiers, law-enforcement, and other operators. Being in the right place often means the difference between life and death. Commercial startups have recently developed a variety of indoor navigation and shopper tracking technologies, and the goal of the Urban Navigation Track is to identify the best of these innovations and adapt them to the requirements of counter-terrorism professionals.

“Previous competitions proposed some great ideas, and we funded several innovative startups, which look for collaboration and funding opportunities to realize the full potential of their initiatives,” says Brig. Gen. (ret.) Dr. Daniel Gold, head of IMOD’s DDR&D.

“The US Defense Department is holding this contest in Israel for the third time because of the reputation of the Israeli startup ecosystem, as well as the unique combating-terror and security expertise that Israeli entrepreneurs bring to the table,” says Adam Tarsi, International Program Manager, US Department of Defense (CTTSO). While held in Israel, the contest is open to startups worldwide, and in fact, entries came from 19 different countries, including Israel, the US, Austria, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Romania, Turkey, Chile, Spain, France, Netherlands, and India.

“Interestingly, however, several of the entries from abroad were also from Israeli entrepreneurs, which supports the strategy of focusing this competition on Israel,” says Ayla Matalon, Executive Director of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Israel. “The judges did not consider the entrant’s country in judging, but anyway the Israeli startups came out on top,” she adds.

“The contest is a unique opportunity for early-stage startups,” says Gideon Miller, Chairman of CTTSC3. “Besides the prize money, it provides extraordinary exposure to the resources and requirements of potential funding bodies across the US Government, as well as other customers, investors, and partners worldwide. For example, one of our previous prize winners was Imagry, a breakthrough startup in the AI processing of images and video, who following their success in CTTSC2 leveraged their technology towards smart vehicles and recently raised $7 Million.”

Among the finalists are:

CardioScale – CardioScale has embedded a proprietary medical monitoring algorithm in a portable arm-cuff to enable dramatic improvements in triaging, monitoring, and therefore survival rates of victims of terrorist attacks and other mass-casualty events.

D-ID – D-ID’s novel technology protects photos from face recognition algorithms, while keeping them similar to the human eye.

FirstPoint Mobile Guard – FirstPoint protects all mobile devices from currently undetectable threats that may be hidden in the cellular network.

Viisights – Viisights deep video-understanding technology learns to classify objects in much the same way that humans do, representing an important breakthrough in video surveillance, border security, and any other application that requires intelligent monitoring of large amounts of video data.

Colugo System – Colugo has developed a breakthrough UAV technology that provides the advantages of both quadrotor and fixed-wing technologies, without the disadvantages of either. The technology can take off & land vertically like a drone and fly for long distances and durations like a fixed wing UAV. 

3rdEye Systems – 3rdEye has developed a uniquely low-weight/ low-cost thermal imaging and analysis module that enables drones to automatically detect and autonomously respond to a variety of objects of interest in all light and weather conditions.

RoboSleeve – RoboSleeve leverages advanced medical robotics and catheterization technologies to solve the homeland security and defense problem of inspecting pipes, and other dangerous and inaccessible spaces.

FinCom.Co Ltd – Fincom's advanced phonetics-embedded AI identifies the same individual across any number of different databases, even those in which the name is misspelled or written in a different language.

Cyber Sepio Systems – Sepio solves the problem of rogue software riding on computer peripherals or components introduced by internal abusers or via the supply chain.

NVISOL Ltd – The NVISOL smart-hook autonomously homes in on and robustly grasps its target, solving the classic problem of retrieving critical assets from inaccessible locations.

For more information about the challenge and the conference see this link.