In Connecticut, Security Ideas Seek Venture Capital

He's not asking for much -- only $500,000 -- but for Robert L. Muller, president of Fenrir Industries Inc., in Stamford, finding investors for his new advancement in body armor hasn't been easy. That didn't deter him from manning a booth at the Connecticut Venture Group's Funding Security Industry Ventures program Wednesday night at The Westin Hotel in Stamford.

He was one of about a dozen vendors at the event, including Janus Associates Inc. of Stamford and PortNexus of Greenwich. Although Muller didn't sign any contracts, he had lots of visitors.

"There's no soft body armor that can stop this," said Muller, holding a bullet shot by an AK-47. He has developed a woven fabric comprised of titanium and Kevlar or Aramid layers that can stop an AK-47 round. Muller, whose company makes safety shields and door rams, said he has successfully tested the fabric. He has a patent pending on the material.

"The difference is the titanium and the weaving process," Muller said, noting that unlike the heavy plates that soldiers wear to stop AK-47 rounds, his material can be made into a pliable wrap-around vest. It weighs 1.9 pounds per square foot, compared to the plate's 5.1 pounds per square foot.

"I'm looking for a high-net-worth individual who considers himself a patriot. I need $500,000 to obtain vendors and an independent tester and to market the hell out of it," Muller said, adding that he would subcontract the manufacturing process.

Down the aisle, Patricia Fisher, president and chief executive officer of Janus Associates, and Bruce Koch, chief financial officer, were manning a booth to market Biogate, a technology that allows a user to integrate a variety of biometric security devices, including iris and thumb print scans.

"It's in pilot testing with the Secretary of Defense's office. They know us. We've done a lot of work with the federal government," said Koch, adding that the company got its start in information technology security. "We've financed it for five years. We'd love to have someone with capital get interested. Now it's time to put some real cash into it and put it into the marketplace. We're looking for anywhere between $2 million and $5 million."

Koch and Fisher are hoping they struck a chord with some of the 100 or so potential investors who attended the event, which included a keynote speech by Howard Safir, former New York City police commissioner and chairman of Safir Rosetti, a security and intelligence firm. "Security is no longer an option," Safir told the audience, commenting that industry has been slower than government in improving its protection against terrorists and other infiltrators.

U.S. industry spends millions on hiring security guards, but much of it is lost because guards are ineffective in most cases, he said, as are video surveillance cameras that often produce grainy tapes. Video surveillance recorders will be replaced by proactive "intelligent video," said Safir, also chairman of board of GVI Security Solutions Inc., a provider of video surveillance and security technology.

"I believe industry is going away from guards and into technology. I'm talking about real security, compared to the appearance of security," said Safir, who is seeking financing for GVI.

The federal government's Department of Homeland Security has spent $36.4 billion on the nation's security, most of it for technology, he said, suggesting that unprotected facilities are more likely to be targets than those guarded by high-tech devices.

"Terrorists want to succeed. If you make it hard for terrorists, they will go to someplace where it's not hard. Terrorists are patient, well-funded and have tremendous resolve," said Safir, predicting that eventually there will be another terrorist attack on the U.S.

Despite all the technological successes in the security field, there still is a need for small, hand-held devices that can detect explosives, he said. "We're looking for a company with an explosives detector that works," Safir said.