Rafael, AnyVision shareholders in talks on facial recognition JV

Facial recognition Photo: Shutterstock

AnyVision would spin off its defense activities but retain its homeland security and other operations.

Defense electronics company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and the shareholders of Israeli artificial intelligence driven computer vision company AnyVision are in advanced talks about setting up a joint venture in the military-defense sector. The new company would be jointly owned 50-50 by AnyVision's shareholders and Rafael.

After the establishment of the company, the activities of AnyVision, which specializes in security and control entry systems using facial recognition, will only be in the commercial-civilian sector. AnyVision's military activities will become part of the joint venture, while its homeland security facial recognition activities will remain part of the startup. AnyVision said that the new situation will not affect its workforce and the deal will only include the transfer of knowhow and patents.

AnyVision is controlled by its founders Eylon Etshtein and Prof. Shlomo Ben-Artzi and businessman Avihai Stolero who bought drone-maker Aeronautics together with Rafael. AnyVision has 240 employees in Tel Aviv, New York, Mexico, London and Singapore. At the start of the coronavirus the company furloughed many of its employees but according to AnyVision "most of them have been brought back."

AnyVision raised $31 million in its last financing round in June 2019 from Microsoft's M12 fund, DFJ Growth Fund, and Eyal Ofer's OG Fund and the company has raised $74 million to date.

AnyVision's homeland security operations have seen a surge in demand since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The company said that it has "deployed an immediate epidemiological investigation system, which is currently being operated in Sheba Medical Center, an identification and warning system for wearing masks for organization operating in public spaces, a security system for preventing theft for shopping centers, an entry control systems for people with subscriptions, systems operating contactless elevators, production control systems and more.

Microsoft's M12 fund recently decided to divest from AnyVision even though its audit committee could not substantiate claims of unethical use of the company's facial recognition technology in the West Bank. Sources in the industry believe that this decision may have persuaded AnyVision to spin off its defense activities into the joint venture with Rafael.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 3, 2020 © Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

Facial recognition Photo: Shutterstock
Facial recognition Photo: Shutterstock
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