Below is our recent interview with Yaron Ashkenazi, Founder and CEO of AWZ HLS Investment Fund:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Awz HLS Fund?
A: Awz HLS (Homeland Security) Fund is a Canadian venture capital fund that invests in primarily Israeli leading-edge companies developing cyber security, intelligence and physical security next-generation technologies and services, with high growth potential and applicability to the global market.
Our executives and advisors are among the most senior experts in this sector. Including former senior executives from Canadian and Israeli intelligence and security agencies (CSIS, CAF, Mossad and ISA), and global business, financial and venture capital experts.
According to MarketandMarkets Research, the global homeland security market is expected to grow to $732 billion USD by 2023. Awz HLS Fund is uniquely positioned to succeed as this market grows.
Q: You’ve recently announced a $3 million investment in MinerEye; could you tell us something more?
A: Organizations are now starting to deal with a growing number of challenges regarding data protection. MinerEye’s technology provides a unique data management and protection solution to allow organizations to cope with the growing risks to organizational information and new regulatory requirements.
MinerEye offers Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered information governance to automate the identification and tracking of data in enterprise scale repositories and storage platforms. MinerEye’s patent-pending technology fuses computer vision and machine learning to identify sensitive data patterns based on learning sets of exemplar files. In simpler terms, an organization provides examples of sensitive data to MinerEye, and it explores the enterprise system, finding where all instances of this data are held, allowing the organization to ensure that they are properly secured. MinerEye’s new promotional movie can be seen here.
MinerEye is primed for success with data protection regulations becoming stricter in North America and especially in Europe, where, on May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect. After this date, organizations which find themselves noncompliant with the GDPR, will face heavy fines.
Q: What are your investment criteria and what target areas are the most interest to you?
A: Our expert executive and strategic advisors scan the homeland security market and continuously identify gaps within the intelligence, cyber and physical security sectors. Based on these opportunities, we recruit highly-promising start-up companies which provide next-generation solutions to the identified gaps.
Some of the sectors we have invested in, include:
• Data Loss Prevention – MinerEye
• Internet-of-Things Protection – NanoLock
• Automated Penetration Testing – Pcysys
• ICS/SCADA Cyber Security – Siga OT Solutions
• Physical and Cyber Security Command & Control – Octopus Systems
• Secure high-speed high-resolution video communication – Elsight
• Mobile Communication Encryption – Assac Networks
• Augmented Reality for Emergency Forces – C4 Systems
Q: At what stage does Awz HLS Fund invest? What is the best way to approach you with a business plan?
A: Awz HLS Fund invests primarily in Series A companies which have a working product and some initial pilots and product sales. Our investment capital allows our investees to expand their marketing and sales reach globally and especially in North America.
As a strategy, our executive team and strategic advisors source companies that provide technologies and solutions to solve the gaps in private sector cyber, intelligence, physical security. Once identified, we approach the companies we wish to consider for investment.
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Q: What are your plans for next six months?
A: We consider our Fund to be investing “Smart Money”. As such, we are very active and involved with our portfolio companies’ development.
Our next 6 months will be spent supporting and consulting on each of our portfolio company’s business development strategy and its implementation in North America and globally. We will be assisting their rebranding processes, where required, and helping in preparations for the portfolio companies’ subsequent fundraising series. As well, we will be facilitating introductions to strategic partners, VCs, and investment bankers based on our group’s extensive relationships.