Monday, October 25, 2004

Chemical-detecting cameras and imaging gear that instantly can map out an area of nuclear contamination will be among the goods offered at an extraordinary trade conference in Washington this week.

Sixty top Israeli security-related companies will be displaying their latest technology for American companies and agencies responsible for patrolling U.S. borders and protecting against terrorist threats.

Some of the most exciting equipment is suitable for customs, border patrol, and detection, said Rob Hartwell of the American Business Development Group (ABDG), which helped organize the Oct. 28-29 conference for invited guests only.

“The Israelis excel at combining photo optics, sensing devices, cameras and also water-acoustical instruments, capable of detecting any intrusion and identifying whether it is human or animal,” Mr. Hartwell said.

The conference also will help Israeli firms connect with like-minded American companies interested in satellite tracking, security systems, firearms, ammunition, maritime security, armor and bulletproof glass.

The United States and Israel already cooperate in the military arena, and several skilled Israelis have clearances to work in the U.S. military sector. This week’s symposium is designed to expand that cooperation into the homeland-security arena.

Israel’s government must approve the transfer of any sensitive technology, and several companies will not disclose their most advanced technologies. But many companies are ready to show off equipment that is more advanced or more competitive than anything made in the United States.

One company has developed hyper-spectral imaging based on satellite technology that can instantly map out an area contaminated by weapons of mass destruction and determine the best evacuation routes, Mr. Hartwell said.

Another offer is for a product already being used “in a major conflict” — a vehicle-borne camera that can see in the dark, sense heat or movement, and sniff out a number of chemical and biological compounds.

“A lot of different industries in Israel have transferred their knowledge to nonmilitary applications,” said Ronin Zahavy, director of industry affairs for the Israeli Export and International Cooperation Institute.

More than 200 Israeli companies were evaluated over the last six months by conference organizers. Some offers were rejected, such as a company whose major concept was a lounge chair with a built-in lie detector.

ABDG, a consulting group, traveled to Israel with more than 20 experts, including former military members, program managers, potential clients and Capitol Hill defense staff, to vet the companies invited to the program.

There will be some 60 presentations in three sessions during the two-day conference, with the aim of finding business partners and establishing joint ventures to better approach the American market.

“We are arranging face-to-face business-opportunity meetings with U.S. companies and essentially trying to take the cream of the crop of Israeli technology and putting them in front of top U.S. companies,” Mr. Hartwell said.

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