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Will Israel be able to execute 200,000 tests daily, producing results within seconds? According to Brig. Gen. (res.) Dr. Danny Gold, Head, MAF’AT, Israel Ministry of Defense – this is highly probable. Speaking at the INNOTECH 2020 special conference broadcast organized by iHLS, Gold said that experiments are underway in the operation of a system designed for mass COVID-19 tests, similar to the breathalyzer test. The results of the test will be available within 30 seconds to 1 minute. He said: “Within a month we will know – I’m optimistic.”
During the INNOTECH broadcast for innovation, cyber, and HLS, which will be broadcasted on iHLS website on December 8-9, Gold elaborated on the security establishment’s policy regarding the innovation momentum in the civilian realm. “In the last few years, we have been reaching out for the commercial market. It has been developing swiftly in fields such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data, etc. We are looking out searching for collaborations. Our model is to base on the civilian market’s advanced technology and add on it our own secret technology.”
Gold explained that in fact, everything is possible: “We take technologies and interfaces seen in the movies and gaming world and transfer them into the security realm, command and control systems or weapon operation.”
Gold described the next-generation tank currently under development by the defense establishment. The tank is wholly composed of touch screens and AI systems. “The soldier does not have to take his head out of the vehicle – he can see his environment in 3D, receive information, and operate by clicking the touch screen.” Gold emphasized that the combatants take part in all the development stages of the technology in order to adapt it to human capabilities.
Gold revealed that the defense establishment has been also evaluating biological engineering, prevalent at cancer treatment, for security needs. For example, defense organizations have been checking solutions for bacteria engineering designed for the treatment of explosives, and the use of DNA as a new dimension of intelligence.
Gold emphasized that the defense establishment has been proactively upgrading current systems, such as Iron Dome – “the enemy is learning, and so do we.”
In the field of civilian defense, Gold said that during the last two years, there has been a breakthrough in the use of laser systems. One of the systems currently operative is a defense system for civilian aircraft that is already in use by El Al: a laser system intercepts a missile that threatens to hit the aircraft, infuses a virus into it and deviates the missile from its course. He said the system is a world’s first.
During the last few years, the defense establishment has been intensifying its search for dual-use startups that can be suitable for the civilian and defense markets. Within this framework, MAF’AT has initiated the establishment of INNOFENSE, a startup acceleration program operated by iHLS and another company, and that has already been very successful. 130 startups applied to the program following the publication of a call for startups a year ago, 12 startups were selected to participate in the program.
Gold said that this model has been working: “We provide the startups with funding for POC, they receive support from our development experts, and also an end-customer that is involved in the development process.”
Gold explained that the search for innovation is not confined to the Israeli market, it is global: We organized an international competition in order to find an AI-based technology for the automatic identification of vehicles or entities. 500 teams from around the globe participated in this competition, and we are choosing the best technology.
Gold is proud of the fact that his office succeeded in cutting down the connection mechanism with the startups. “Bureaucracy procedures that would have lasted a year were reduced to 40 days, and we will reach 30 days. This is a rapid rate also compared to the civilian market.”
The defense establishment is not looking only for innovation but also serves as a “detector” of technologies for the VC funds market. Gold revealed that the Israel Ministry of Defense signed agreements regarding three international VCs from the US, Canada, Singapore, and Japan, as well as an Israeli pension fund, according to which the IMoD detects dual-use technologies suitable for the defense and private markets, and recommends to VCs to invest in them.”