SurveyLab aims for US intelligence groups
Wellington firm SurveyLab expects to sell its survey devices to the "United States intelligence community" after striking a partnership with Virginia-based non-profit company In-Q-Tel, which has strong links to the CIA.
In-Q-Tel was established by US Defence Intelligence Agency Advisory Board member Gilman Louie with the support of the CIA in 1999. Its brief is to help US intelligence agencies source the best commercial technology. It also often invests in those suppliers.
Kiwi engineer Leon Lammers van Toorenburg developed the idea for the product while working in Kenya in his 20s, helping police find the best locations for microwave telecommunications towers.
The handheld "ikeGPS" device, which has been through several iterations, now lets users document the GPS co-ordinates, photos and 3-D shape of structures from a distance.
SurveyLab chief executive Glenn Milnes said the partnership with In- Q-Tel did not mean it was likely to sell ikes to the CIA. There were about 16 intelligence agencies in the US, many of whose work was relatively "mundane", he said.
These include the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency - a "combat-support" agency that was credited by the White House with providing critical information supporting the raid that resulted in the killing of Osama Bin Laden last year.
SurveyLab had had a strong year and now employed 24 staff, Milnes said. Its customers include utilities such as power companies as well as military and aid-related organisations. It does not disclose revenues or profits.
Investors include venture capital company No 8 Ventures and former mayor Kerry Prendergast and partner Rex Nicholls. Lammers van Toorenburg also remains a shareholder.
The Dominion Post