CIA fund acquires stake in French startup Prophesee

In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital fund, acquired a stake in French startup Prophesee, which has developed an innovative neuromorphic vision technology, at the end of September. Since 2018, In-Q-Tel has invested in some 15 European deeptechs.

Numerous contracts with foreign investors

French deeptech Prophesee, founded in 2014, has developed a revolutionary process for neuromorphic vision, also known as computer vision. The nugget has thus created a silicon artificial retina, a world first that has not failed to attract the interest of several industrial players.

Thanks to algorithms based on artificial intelligence, the retina invented by Prophesee is capable of reproducing the functioning of the human eye. The 40 billion active cameras in the four corners of the world could potentially benefit from this high technology, which is also likely to equip autonomous vehicles in a few years' time.

Prophesee has signed numerous contracts with leading foreign players, including the US military research agency Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), Huawei, Sony and, as of summer 2021, Xiaomi and the Chinese investment fund Sinovation.

CIA fund targets European deeptechs

In-Q-Tel, the venture capital fund of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, acquired a stake in Prophesee without wasting any time, unlike the big European investors, who were not interested in the French nugget's technology.

This is a recurring phenomenon according to Luca Verre, CEO of Prophesee, who admits that he finds it easier to attract foreign investors than French ones, who are less willing to pay the necessary sums.

In France, the Secretary of State for the Digital Sector says he is open to foreign investment, while remaining vigilant to ensure that national economic and strategic interests are preserved.

In-Q-Tel, which opened a London office in 2018, has already invested in around 15 European deeptechs, particularly in the security and defense sector.

The CIA fund has invested in two Spanish nuggets: CounterCraft, focused on the detection of espionage and cyber-attacks, and Worldsensing, a player in the digitization of critical infrastructures. UK deeptech Agile Analog, Finland's Iceye and Germany's Morpheus Space have also benefited from financial support from the US Central Intelligence Agency's fund.

In-Q-Tel also called on French deeptech Linkurious, known for its role in the Panama Papers affair, and Preligens, a specialist in artificial intelligence for intelligence purposes.