In-Q-Tel Forms Strategic Partnership With Magnet Forensics


In-Q-Tel the investment fund for the intelligence community, has formed a strategic partnership with and invested in Magnet Forensics, a global digital forensics company. The partnership and investment follow a handful of others made by In-Q-Tel this year.

Magnet Forensics’ core product – Internet Evidence Finder (IEF) -recovers unstructured data such as social media, chat, and email from computers, smartphones, and tablets, and structures it for analysis and collaboration. The product is gaining the attention of law enforcement for its ability to pull data from so-called encrypted devices and is already used by 2,700 public safety organizations in 92 countries.

Managing unstructured data is a big concern for law enforcement and the intelligence community. A significant portion of intelligence collection and analysis comes through unstructured data. These data can be anything from physical pieces of paper to chat messages to unscanned images, etc. Technology that enables the collection, organization and analysis of these data is rapidly coming to market as IT vendors scramble to capture the contracting opportunity. As CivSource reported earlier this year, IBM recently released significant updates to its Analysts Notebook solution, which comes with unstructured data integration capability. That software will work with a range of unstructured data capture solutions. IBM, not surprisingly, pushes for users to buy into Watson’s capabilities in that area.

In-Q-Tel is a not-for-profit, strategic investor in early stage versions of technologies that are relevant to the intelligence and law enforcement communities like Magnet Forensics. Sometimes the fund comes in alongside existing Big IT vendors as well. In September, In-Q-Tel made an investment in CyPhy Works, a company that makes unmanned hovering robots that enable long distance communications in areas where existing network coverage may be spotty. The robots enable communications through a microfilament tether that carries power and Ethernet communication between the robot and operators on the ground.

CyPhy Works is the brainchild of Helen Greiner, who was previously a co-founder at iRobot. Before catching the eye of In-Q-Tel, the company received an investment from Motorola Solutions in March, as CivSource reported at the time. The investment is one of several Motorola has made in recent months in an effort to boost its feature set for law enforcement.

“A tethered drone collecting situational awareness in large or hard-to-reach locations quickly puts eyes and ears on the scene, enabling our customers to read the moment, know what’s relevant and help them make fast decisions about how to deploy resources. This can help not only resolve incidents faster but also provide information to help prevent critical situations from happening in the first place,” said Paul Steinberg, chief technology officer at Motorola Solutions of the CyPhy deal.

In addition to its drones, CyPhy Works also offers “no-pilot” hardware systems, autopilot and control software, uninterrupted high-definition and infrared imaging, and laser measurement sensors.