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Global Security Challenge Finalists Announced

Global Security Challenge : 22 October, 2010  (Company News)
The Global Security Challenge will see companies from around the globe enter the finals for security innovation development funding
See our events guide listing for more details

Thirteen of the world's most promising security start-ups have been chosen to go head to head in a Dragons' Den-style pitch next month in London, for $500,000 (£326,000) to develop their business. The companies have reached the final of the Global Security Challenge (GSC) after undergoing a rigourous selection process in which they convinced a panel of security and technology experts that their invention could solve one of the world's most pressing security concerns.

GSC is an annual business competition for security innovators and researchers. Now in its 5th year the challenge has proven itself a key contributor to improving national and personal security through technology, and a catalyst for bringing some of world's best security companies to the attention of investors and customers. Previous contenders have gone on to raise over $80 million investment as a result of the challenge.

This year's finalists represent some of the most exciting companies in the industry. The ground-breaking technologies competing for 1st prize, and for the attention of investors, include:

* A cheap and secure test of the authenticity of medication in Africa
* A new identification technology based on the unique movement of peoples' eyes
* A technology that can inspect over 1,000 bags or packages per hour and identify specific materials such as explosives, weapons and contraband items such as drugs
* Low cost remote controlled robots for providing reconnaissance of dangerous areas such as hostage situations or war zones (see below for a full list)

Two overall winners will be crowned at the GSC Grand Summit which takes place on the 11th November 2010 at the University of London. The best security start-up will receive $200,000 support and mentorship from Advent Venture Partners. The winner of best SME will receive $300,000 and mentorship from the Carlyle Group. The prize money is provided by the Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) of US Department of Defense, which is committed to advancing innovation in security.

The winners from a second GSC innovation competition - the Cyber Security Challenge - will be announced the next day on the 12th November in the same venue. Whist the Global Security Challenge is about security in its broadest sense - encompassing everything from biometrics to GPS tracking - the Cyber Security Challenge only allows entries that have an online security focus. There will be up to 10 finalists in this competition.

All entrants and attendees to both days will benefit from unparalleled networking opportunities with investors, government officials and industry leaders, as well as other innovative start-ups. Whilst the US DoD funds the winner, previous finalists have been able to raise significant capital and win new business as a direct result of taking part in the final.

Richard Wilson, Director of the Global Security Challenge said "Innovative companies are key to addressing changing threats without the need to encroach on civil liberties. Often excellent companies fall by the wayside because they don't have access to funding, whilst investors don't have the confidence to invest because the technology is so specialised. This competition solves that by getting experts to identify the world's most promising security SMEs and start-ups, then bringing them together to pitch their ideas to investors."

Last year's Global Security Challenge winners were Kromek (UK) for Best Security SME and Adaptive Imaging Technologies (Israel) for Most Promising Security Start-up. Kromek produces a range of detection systems and were commended in particular for its threat liquid identification system and a unit for screening multiple containers.

Founder Director of Kromek, Professor Max Robinson, said: "Winning the GSC last year was a huge boost to our company. Not only did the money help us develop our technology further but the accolade has been critical in securing further funding, and has provided the independent verification we needed to convince customers of the authenticity and value of the product."

John Morgan, from TSWG, said: "Competitions like this are vitally important to finding innovative approaches to address difficult issues like crime and terror. With the Global Security Challenge, we are able to identify the start-up companies that offer world-class solutions to problems and help the very best ones get their products into use-a very effective use of funding in a changing area like this. In the past five years we've identified some really promising technologies that we may not have otherwise come across, and which are important in the ongoing challenge to keep people safe without limiting their freedom."

The line up of speakers includes top names from the world of security including, UK Security Minister Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones, and Dr Lisa Porter, first director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), the US government body which invests in high-risk/high-payoff research programs that have the potential to provide our nation with an overwhelming intelligence advantage over future adversaries.

Full list of finalists:

iWebGate, based in Australia and the UK, has developed an online security product which represents a virtual, highly-secure reception area between an organisations' trusted network and volatile public networks like the Internet. It aims to enable businesses to improve the overall security of trusted networks while keeping it simple to do business on the Internet.

Due to significant cost and technical complexities most SMEs connect perimeter firewall ports directly to applications/systems residing on their trusted network. A very risky process as software and application security is rarely 100% secure.

The iWebGate platform, which is cheap and easily implementable, mirrors the trusted network and supplies all the key services normally provided and located in the trusted network. Undesirables penetrating perimeter defences remain stuck in a 'ghost network' with nothing of value available and a lack of physical stepping stones to access the trusted network or launch outward bound surrogate attacks on other networks.

Biogy, from San Francisco has developed a new technology that protects the user identity and sensitive data that does not depend on the integrity of the host PCs, web browser or mobile phone, which are notoriously insecure.

The system is comprised of a low-cost, biometric and cryptographic technology which can be integrated into flash drives, mobile phones and PCs. All data is biometrically protected and can only be read after being unlocked with the owner's fingerprint. Further, all data is protected by hardware encryption. The key is uniquely generated by the user's fingerprint and is securely stored on the Biogy chip that performs the fingerprint authentication and other cryptographic protocols.

The system protects against some of the most common and devastating forms of cyber attacks, such as phishing, keystroke loggers and Stack/Runtime Analysis attacks (i.e. Cloud Computing vulnerabilities).

DecaWave, from Ireland, has developed a tiny tracking chip, one tenth the size of existing products. It can be attached to a person or object and deliver precision information about their location, whether indoor or outdoor, and regardless of any obstructions and whether or not they are moving. The device can run constantly using a single watch battery for 10 years.

BriefCam, based in Israel, BriefCam's Video Synopsis technology gives users the ability to browse hours of video surveillance footage in minutes by compacting the day's events into a 'brief' that takes just a fraction of the time to review. The system enables users to accelerate the process of identifying incidents, investigating them rapidly and take the correct action swiftly. BriefCam can provide a complete representation of all moving events occurring during hours of video footage in a condensed clip as short as a few minutes long.

Safend is an Israeli company that has developed a unique way to quickly and accurately detect the illegitimate removal of data and information from an organisation with minimal effort required by a security administrator. It can monitor data transfer and reliably differentiate between potential data extrusion and the legitimate transfer of information.

ID-U Biometrics is another Israeli business that has developed new technology to identify individuals based on the unique movement of their eyes. It uses a completely new idea - stimuli-driven biometrics whereby the software acquires their eye movement patterns as an individual watches images on a screen. The process needs nothing more than a standard camera, a standard screen, and the ID-U software.

mPedigree, from Ghana is the first system in the world which enables consumers and patients to verify the authenticity of their medicines by sending a free text message of the unique, product-embossed codes.

Across the developing world, especially in West Africa, the issue of fake and counterfeit medication has become a huge problem - the WHO estimates that in many emerging markets, up to 30% of drugs are compromised. The growing sophistication of cheap graphic software and hardware kit means that packaging, including traditional security features such as holograms, can be perfectly replicated by even smalltime counterfeit operators making the need for a highly robust but economically feasible system urgent.

While being just as robust as emerging methods such as EMID and RFID, and far more secure than holograms, the mPedigree approach is widely accessible through basic text messaging, requires no specialist equipment or training, is free to access for consumers, and a fraction of the price of holograms, and RFID and EMID techniques.

Fotegrafik, based in Singapore, has developed Video Analytics software for the surveillance and security industries. It enables rapid searching through huge volumes of videos, to locate vehicles or individuals based on a visual description.

They also offer a video tagging system, that can detect different objects (e.g. a vehicle) and environment types (such as trees, crowds etc.), which can be tagged and located at various points within the video.

Law enforcement agencies all over the world are aggregating enormous databases of hours of footage from various sources. The challenge is to efficiently extract meaningful information from those databases.

Most video analytic systems available today try to detect anomalies in behaviour. Fotegrafik's products are based on a visual description of a suspect, missing person, vehicle or even crime-scene. This is done at unparalleled speed that allows close to real time reactions to events.

ScanTech's Sentinel, from Atlanta, has developed an X-ray checkpoint inspection system. Based on over 10 years of applied R & D, its technology can automatically identify specific materials such as explosives, caustic and flammable agents, weapons, and even contraband items such as drugs and other prohibited organic substances.

The Sentinel system's Automatic Threat Identification technology is capable of automatically identifying ambiguous material and substance threats, reducing false positives by over 300% over some systems. Sentinel systems can inspect over 1,000 bags or packages per hour, versus an industry average of 300 bags or packages per hour - and all within the same footprint and same price as existing checkpoint scanners.

ScanTech's products and systems range from compact checkpoint scanners for use at airports, public buildings, and major venues, to port-side inspection systems capable of inspecting entire containers, trailers, and railroad cars.

MacroUSA, from California, develops a variety of unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) - remote controlled robots for military, law enforcement and emergency services. A variety of audio and optical sensors allow inspection and reconnaissance for inaccessible or dangerous situations. The variety of UGVs and sensors have a common controller that allows the user to pick and choose the equipment depending on mission.

Lincoln Advanced Technology from Illinois, have developed Respira, an extended wear respirator mask specifically designed to be more effective during pandemic conditions than the surgical mask currently used.

Respira is not a gas mask; it filters out only bacteria and viruses, not gases. Respira is intended for use by critical infrastructure workers and their families during a severe epidemic or bioterror event.

Respira is the first respirator specifically designed for long term use under extended pandemic conditions. The mask body is reusable, filtration cartridges are disposable. It is the first respirator specifically designed to filter exhalation as well as inhalation to prevent the transmission of respiratory based diseases such as smallpox, influenza, SARS, H1N1, H5N1, and similar diseases.

NIMTech Inc., based in Toronto, has developed a revolutionary technology, SonicGaugeâ„¢, that uses multiple ultrasonic waves to characterise the "chemical fingerprint" of a substance. SonicGauge will provide unique solutions to significant measurement, quality and process control challenges facing numerous sectors, including industrial, defence, security, health, safety and manufacturing.

SonicGauge is applicable not only to quality control in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, but also to federal security agencies as a source of identification for all types of hazardous materials.

The uniqueness of SonicGauge is its capability to learn. This smart technology allows the non-invasive sensor to be used even in very complex processes, which cannot be precisely defined. For example, the System can track the quality on-line during the production process and signal when a desired point has been reached. SonicGauge can also detect contaminants in a product. It can non-destructively measure the quality of a substance in a closed container by applying the ultrasonic sensor to the outside of the container. This is important when time is a critical factor, or when the cost of goods makes opening containers prohibitive.

Invincea, of Vancouver, has developed the first product on the market that fully virtualises the user's browser to protect the user and their network from web-borne attacks. Attacks against the browser from websites harboring malware are fully isolated from the user's desktop operating system. Instead of infecting the user's desktop, the malware will infect Invincea's virtual environment. The virtual environment will detect infections as corruptions of its pristine environment, then dispose the virtual operating system and restore a pristine one. The process is analogous to pulling out a clean facial tissue, using it, then throwing it out.
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