I can’t wait for the howls of outrage over Vector’s latest investment

Vector has invested $10M in the Israeli startup that developed the impressive Iron Dome software that protects Israel from terrorist rocket attacks.

Instead of shooting down Hamas rockets from Gaza, the Israeli software developer behind the Iron Dome missile defense system, mPrest, is teaming up with New Zealand’s largest power utility to prevent summertime blackouts and cut down on carbon emissions.

By connecting multiple smart devices in an “Internet of Energy” platform, mPrest’s partnership with New Zealand’s Vector LTD indicates how many Israeli hi-tech firms are branching out and adapting defense-contracted technology to civilian use.

“It’s the most significant collaboration between Israel and New Zealand in years,” mPrest CEO Natan Barak said.

“The Iron Dome defense system has saved many lives. And now the renewable energy and smart energy management led by Vector will be life-saving.”

New Zealand’s Vector Ltd is also investing some $10 million in the Israeli start-up, in return for a minority stake in the firm, the two companies announced at a news conference at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in Jerusalem on Monday.

Founded in 2000, the Israeli start-up is increasingly applying the Iron Dome’s software, such as its command-control system, to international settings. The company touts the system’s flexibility and ability – it is vendor agnostic – to incorporate new inputs and commands and the software is already used across platforms in Israel, India, Brazil and the United States.

With analog tools being the historic norm in a power grid – or different mechanical devices for monitoring temperature, pressure, usage, access control – utilities handymen face difficulty in connecting the dots and getting a larger picture. mPrest enters the picture by synchronizing the various devices; upgrading them to digital, installing sensors and putting them on a single information grid with smart meters.

“We are in the middle of the Internet of Things revolution,” Barak said. “That means that the prices of the sensors are going down, the prices of transmitting the data is going down – because of cellular capabilities. Everything, [every household and industrial device] is going to be connected.”

The company will also help prevent air conditioner related power outages by tapping into customers who’ve installed solar panels, wind turbines, and rechargeable batteries. If all these devices are connected to the same server, then the company can respond to peak demand by having customers rely on their own stored-up energy.

Earlier in 2017, Vector began to use mPrest’s services when it comes to gathering power grid analytics, along with monitoring solar panels and wind turbines. The software will initially be used in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city with a population of around 1.5 million, and the company hopes to expand its software use throughout the country and Australia.

Vector is the second largest shareholder in the Israeli company, as the state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems owns half of mPrest’s shares.

For Vector’s chairman, the contract is a homecoming of sorts for Michael Stiassny, who is Jewish, and whose mother fought for Israel during the 1948 War of Independence.

An Israeli equity crowdfunding firm, OurCrowd, helped connect the two companies, and OurCrowd announced at the same time an expansion of its tech partnerships between Israel, Australia and New Zealand.

Excellent news. A sound investment. I have seen the Iron Dome in action, literally and even visited an Iron Dome battery outside of Ashdod in 2014.

Me with the Iron Dome Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

I also met with one of the developers, Brigadier General Rafik Shafir:

Brigadier General Rafik Shafir explains the Iron Dome Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

In another life, when I worked for the National Bank, we went through a phase where we were systematically ditching every piece of software on the mainframe that Computer Associates made. One of those pieces of software was CA-7 and we replaced it with Control M from New Dimension software. That was my first direct connection with Israeli companies and software. The Control M software was originally developed for logistics support for the IDF. As Israelis often do they saw other uses for the software and transitioned it into a commercial product.

Another Israeli military developed piece of software that is now in more general use via Google Maps was Waze.

Israelis are brilliant at repurposing software and commercialising it. This will be a good investment for Vector.

 

-Jerusalem Post


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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