You Won’t Believe The Startups The CIA Has Invested In

17/09/2013 19:30

names ten technology businesses funded by the US Government


The venture capital firm In-Q-Tel, a division of the CIA, invests for the purpose of keeping the CIA and other Government Agencies ahead of the technology curve. Some of their choices are fascinating. Here are the ten of the most interesting investments they’ve made.



Founded: 2002
Location: San Francisco, California

3VR is a “video intelligence company”: it sells software that allows video to be data mined. This enables organisations to “leverage video to bolster security, identify and mitigate fraud, and better serve customers”. The organisations using 3VR include banks, retailers, governments and law enforcement agencies.

In practice the “video intelligence” they have developed allows objects such as licence plates and people to be analysed. Their current technology includes facial surveillance, people counting and queue line analysis. They have recently released a demographic analysis tool which “allows retail, banking and hospitality end-users to count their customers and identify these customers by age and gender”.

In-Q-Tel has invested in a company whose use to CIA is increasing as the technology matures. Demographic analysis allows retailers to better understand their customer base, and it’s potential to become a powerful criminal profiling tool is obvious.



Location: Seattle, Washington

In-Q-Tel doesn’t disappoint when it comes to investing in James Bond-type gadgetry. Adaptx provides software and hardware to speed up data entry. Their core product is a $299 pen that converts handwritten notes into electronic data. However, the raft of supporting software that allows a vast array of input data to be instantly uploaded to a central system shows Adapta are about more than just fancy pens.

The ability for a central command centre to receive that much data in real time is very desirable, whether that command centre belongs to emergency services dealing with an accident or the CIA conducting a clandestine mission.

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