Ron Conway and others to invest in smart gun technology

Conway and other prominent investors band together to invest in violence-reducing technology

Financial trends and news by Faith Merino
March 14, 2013
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/2e1b

We all experienced a bruising emotional cyclone last December when word of the Newtown massacre exploded on the Web and quickly turned everyone’s attention to the gun situation in the good ol’ U.S. Nary a Twitter or Facebook feed went without a political meme.

In the immediate aftermath of a horror story like that, it’s easy for everyone to pick a cause. What’s more difficult is sticking with our resolutions when we become too emotionally drained to keep thinking about them.

Shortly after news of the Newtown massacre went viral, Ron Conway and several other prominent investors acted, launching a signature-gathering campaign to get Congress to support “common sense gun laws to eliminate background check loopholes, ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and make gun trafficking a federal crime.”

Within a month of the shooting, the campaign gathered 213,000 signatures.

Today, Conway has banded together with other prominent investors to create the Technical Committee to Reduce Gun Violence, which includes financial backers like Lerer Ventures, Band of Angels, General Catalyst Partners, and Benchmark Capital. The group will oversee the Sandy Hook Promise Innovation Initiative, geared toward investing in smart gun technology and other innovations to reduce gun violence.

"There is money to be made. Gun violence is expensive to society, and there is a big potential market for solutions,” said Ian Sobieksi, founder and managing director of Band of Angels, to the Wall Street Journal. Sobieski’s firm has invested in ShotSpotter, a technology company that helps police pinpoint with greater accuracy where gunshots have been fired, so they can get to the scene faster.

Another area of technology the Committee members say they could get behind is biometric technology that could design guns to unlock only when they recognize the licensed owner’s fingerprints.

The technology potential for smart guns is vast, from guns programmed with face recognition technology to shoot at non-human targets, to guns programmed to shoot only one round every few minutes, to guns programmed to deactivate when they enter populated areas.

The biometric technology has been one of the largest focal points in the smart gun movement, but not everyone is on board, as most gun violence is committed with a person’s own gun. There’s also the question of what happens if the technology fails. And the potential for consumers to become over confident in the technology is a very real threat as well.

But the Innovation Initiative isn’t exclusively limited to smart gun technologies. The Initiative is also looking for innovation in background check processing, school safety technologies, mental health applications, shot and gun detection systems, and big data analytics.

The initiative is two pronged, with the Funding Solicitation and the Innovation Challenge. Entrepreneurs and companies can submit their ideas to the program to get vc funding, or people can submit their ideas prototypes to the Innovation Challenge, where they’ll be matched up with development teams. 


Image source: businessweek.com

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