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In-Q-Tel: “Investing in Our Nation's Security"


Founded in 1999 under the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) and the Directorate of Science and Technology and with the support of the US Congress, In-Q-Tel acts as a non-profit venture capital firm for the CIA and other members of the US Intelligence Community. To date, the group has engaged with more than 100 companies and is said to have a budget of over   US$50 million per year. Typically, In-Q-Tel reportedly prefers to make small investments (more or less US$1 million) in start-up companies as a junior partner to traditional VC funds with most of the investment funds destined to be used for evaluating and funding technologies that the Intelligence Community can potentially make use of it (naturally, any firm that In-Q-Tel invests in can then be assured that the Intelligence Community will become a major customer).

Management Team:

As an appendage of the CIA, In-Q-Tel’s management team consists of non-CIA operatives without security clearances who were hired from the private sector.  

Christopher Darby (President and CEO) joined In-Q-Tel in September 2006. Prior to joining In-Q-Tel, Christopher was a Vice President and General Manager at Intel overseeing their Middleware Products Division, the President & CEO of Sarvega (acquired by Intel), the Chairman and CEO of @stake (later acquired by Symantec), the President and CEO of Interpath Communications (acquired by US Internetworking), several executive positions at Digital Equipment Corporation (now Hewlett-Packard), and other position with Northern Telecom (now Nortel Networks) and Bell Northern Research.

Other key members of the management team include Steve Bowsher, Managing Partner and Executive Vice President; Patrick Ciganer, Executive Vice President (IC Support); Troy M. Pearsall, Executive Vice President (Technology Practices); and Matthew Strottman, Executive Vice President and CFO.

Board of Trustees:

In-Q-Tel’s Board of Trustees include the following members:

Ÿ          Michael M. Crow, Chairman of the Board of In-Q-Tel - The President of Arizona State University and the former Executive Vice Provost of Columbia University.

Ÿ          James Barksdale - The President and CEO of Barksdale Management Corporation; Board of Directors, Time Warner; the former President & CEO of Netscape Communications Corporation; Director of America Online; and CIO of FedEx.

Ÿ          Peter Barris - Managing General Partner, New Enterprise Associates (NEA); the former President and Chief Operating Officer of Legent Corporation (LGNT); and Senior Vice President of the Systems Software Division of UCCEL Corporation (UCE).

Ÿ          Charles G. Boyd - President and CEO of Business Executives for National Security (BENS), General United States Air Force (Ret.), the former Deputy Commander of US forces in Europe, and Executive Director of the Hart-Rudman National Security Commission.

Ÿ          Howard Cox - Partner, Greylock Venture Capital; the former Chairman of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA); and a former official with the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Ÿ          David E. Jeremiah - Partner and President of Technology Strategies & Alliances Corporation, the former Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Commander in Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet.

Ÿ          Anita K. Jones - University Professor and Professor of Computer Science at the University of Virginia and the former Director of Defense Research and Engineering for the US Department of Defense.

Ÿ          A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard - The former Executive Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and chairman and CEO of Alex. Brown.

Ÿ          Elisabeth Paté-Cornell - The Chair of the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University; member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the National Academy of Engineering and of its Council, and the California Council on Science and Technology.

Ÿ          Charles M. Vest - President Emeritus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the former Chairman of the President's Advisory Committee on the Redesign of the Space Station.

Other Support Teams:

In addition, In-Q-Tel has created the following teams to assist with the investment and technology transfer processes:

Ÿ          The In-Q-Tel Interface Center (QIC) within the CIA consists of CIA agents who advise the group as to the types of technologies needed by the Intelligence Community.

Ÿ          The In-Q-Tel IC Support focuses on linking the current and future technology needs of the Intelligence Community with private sector innovation by mapping specific technology practice areas. The IC Support Team also works closely with the QIC to integrate delivered technologies into current operations.

Ÿ          The Strategic Investment Team identifies commercial companies with disruptive products and innovative solutions that are transferable to the Intelligence Community.

Ÿ          The Technology Transfer Team identifies, assesses, and vets new technologies for potential use; works with the creators of these technologies to mature their products; manages the transfer process; and assists with the introduce of new technologies into the Intelligence Community.


In-Q-Tel‘s portfolio consists of roughly seventy-five investments divided into five core practice areas:

Ÿ          The Application Software and Analytics practice area covers investments involving software applications for enterprise, departmental, and individual users; software-based analytics to automate and support human analysis; tools to exploit text-based, multimedia-based, and geospatial-based data in their native language and format; knowledge management and collaboration; and modeling and simulation. Investments include @Last Software (now Google SketchUp), ADAPX , Attensity , Basis Technology , BBN Technologies , CallMiner , Destineer Studios , Endeca , Forterra Systems , FortiusOne , FMS Advance Systems Group , IDELIX , iMove , Inxight Software , Keyhole (now Google Earth), Kofax , Language Weaver , Lingotek , MetaCarta , MetricStream (formerly Zaplet), MotionDSP , NovoDynamics , ORIONMagic , PlateScan , PiXlogic , Quantum4D , Spotfire (now TIBCO), Stratify , Tacit , TerraGo Technologies , Thetus , Traction Software , and Visual Sciences .

Ÿ          The Bio, Nano, and Chemical Technologies practice area covers investments involving the extraction and characterization of trace materials from the environment; the characterization of unknown bulk materials; the on-site determination of individual human traits for IC purposes; point-of-care medical technologies outside of a laboratory or clinical environment; tracking and/or authentication of both individuals and objects; and the enablement of new IC capabilities from advances in material science. Investments include Cambrios , Fluidigm , Microchip Biotechnologies Inc. (MBI) , Nanosys , OpGen , Polychromix , QD Vision , Sionex , and Seahawk Biosystems .

Ÿ          The Communications and Infrastructure practice area covers investments involving data services and capabilities; information lifecycle management; systems support for facilities; connectivity and communications; and computing architectures. Investments include Agent Logic , Asankya , Bay Microsystems , Cassatt Corporation , COPAN Systems , CopperEye , Decru , Infobionics , and StreamBase .

Ÿ          The Digital Identity and Security practice area covers investments involving identity management; access control; risk analysis capabilities; system design and analysis tools; and policy definition and management. Investments include A4Vision , 3VR Security , ArcSight , CoreStreet , Decru , Initiate Systems , Network Chemistry (now Palgo), SRD (now IBM Entity Analytics), and Veracode .

Ÿ          The Embedded Systems and Power practice area covers power generation, transmission, and storage; power management, conservation and conversion; RF, electronic, optic, power and other components; sensor networks and embedded communications; embedded sensing, computing, and communicating platforms; embedded communications components, protocols, and software; basic energy and component materials, science, and technology; and rapid design, prototyping and low rate production. Investments include AdaptivEnergy (formerly PAR Technologies), Dust Networks , Electro Energy , Ember Corporation , Etherstack , GATR Technologies , Infinite Power Solutions (IPS) , Nextreme Thermal Solutions , Paratek , Pixim , Qynergy , Rhevision Technology , Rosum , SkyBuilt Power , Tendril , TenXsys , and WiSpry .

The Bottom Line:

Although In-Q-Tel is not without its critics (some of whom once described it as another government boondoggle), it is considered to be successful enough for Congress to claim credit for creating it and for other government entities to set up or plan to set-up their own venture capital arms using the same model pioneered by the group.

Contact Information:

In-Q-Tel Headquarters:

P.O. Box 749
Arlington, VA 22216

Phone: (703) 248-3000
Fax: (703) 248-3001

Boston , Massachusetts

Phone: (781) 529-1100
Fax: (781) 529-1199

Menlo Park, California

Phone: (650) 234-8999
Fax: (650) 234-8997

Website: http://www.in-q-tel.com