Defense News

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Venture Fund for CIA Explores Spy Gadgets

MotionDSP Inc. co-founder Sean Varah was in his office in San Mateo, Calif., in October 2006 when he got an e-mail from a potential investor.

The sender had been cruising technology blog "TechCrunch" and read a posting about MotionDSP's software, which enhances images from videos and mobile phones.

Two weeks later, four engineers flew in to test the program. In April, the start-up landed an undisclosed sum.

There's a twist to this tale: MotionDSP's investor isn't a neighboring venture-capital firm or an acquisitive company such as Microsoft Corp. or Yahoo! Inc. The money came from In-Q-Tel, the Arlington, Va.-based venture-capital business of the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. spying organization.

Since In-Q-Tel was founded in 1999, the firm has reviewed more than 6,300 business plans for everything from identity recognition software to nano-sized electronic circuits. Many proposals come in via its Web site.

In-Q-Tel has put about $200 million into more than 100 companies, beating traditional venture-capital investors to technologies such as the mapping software that's become Google Earth....Full Article.

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