Bill Gates and Jeb Bush back Evolv, a start-up trying to stop mass shootings

9 Jan 2020377 Views

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Evolv has developed AI-powered security gates that can scan up to 3,600 people per hour for firearms and explosives, without requiring individuals to remove their jackets, smartphones, belts or shoes.

Massachusetts-based security start-up Evolv Technology has raised $30m in its Series C round, bringing the total raised by the company to in excess of $75m.

Evolv’s funding round saw investment from US politician Jeb Bush’s merchant banking firm, Finback Investment Partners. According to Bush’s partner George Huber, Finback was formed late last year and this is the firm’s first deal.

The Series C also saw the return of existing investors including Bill Gates, DCVC, General Catalyst Partners, Lux Capital and SineWave Ventures.

The £30m raised by Evolv will be used to expand sales, marketing, customer support and product development.

Former Florida governor Bush commented: “Mass shootings in our country and Florida, like the ones that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Pulse nightclub and just last month at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola are happening more frequently around the world.

“Evolv has reinvented what’s required in physical security systems to protect innocent people. Outdated, legacy systems just don’t meet the need.”

An alternative to traditional scanners?

Evolv has designed two AI-powered security gates, called the Evolv Edge and the Evolv Express, which use AI, machine learning and millimetre wave sensors to expedite security screenings in high-traffic areas, such as airports and at large events.

The Edge model can scan at least 800 people per hour, while the Express can scan 3,600 per hour. The company notes that this is a significant improvement on conventional scanners that average around 250 people per hour.

The company has developed the gates to work in conjunction with the camera-equipped gates that airports use to identify people as they pass through. Users do not need to remove any jackets, jewellery, shoes, belts or smartphones, as Evolv’s AI can distinguish between everyday accessories and firearms or explosives.

When a threat is detected, a human employee is alerted and given the opportunity to manually screen and search the individual.

‘Dramatically reducing threats’

According to Evolv, more than 50m people have already been screened by its gates, and 5,000 weapons were prevented from entering venues and places of work.

Evolv’s CEO, Peter George, who previously served as president and chair of Fidelis Security, said: “The active shooter epidemic is one of the greatest challenges facing our generation.

“Evolv is the human security company that delivers the best approach to maintaining society’s freedom of movement, while dramatically reducing threats to our schools, places of worship, entertainment venues and other public places.

“Our systems remove the trade-off between safety and inconvenience of an intrusive screen experience. As Evolv’s CEO, I’m honoured to have the personal and professional opportunity of a lifetime to make a difference by helping to reduce acts of violence.”

On the investment from Bush, George said: “Jeb and his group fully understand the opportunity here. As the former governor in Florida, where there have been a lot of – unfortunately – shootings, including the Parkland school shooting, he’s well aware of the active shooter situation.”

Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com