A data analytics startup using social media to find security threats just raised $4 million from the CSIRO

- July 3, 2019 2 MIN READ

Who’s who at Fivecast: Ross Buglak, VP Product Development; CEO Dr Brenton Cooper; Duane Rivett, VP Commercial; Dave Blockow, VP Engineering. Photo: Ben Searcy. 

South Australian data analytics company  Fivecast has raised $4 million from the CSIRO’s Innovation Fund, Main Sequence Ventures, and the South Australian Venture Capital Fund, to expand globally.

The Adelaide startup uses machine learning and AI to build profiles of people based on open-source data such as social media. Its customers includes law enforcement, defence and national intelligence agencies and their product, Fivecast Insight, has been used in counter terrorism, serious and organised crime, and border protection operations in both Australia and the USA.

Fivecast CEO Dr Brenton Cooper said trying to find an emerging threat online was akin to finding the right needle in a very large haystack.

The $4 million raise will bring the “potentially life-saving technology” to the global market just two years after the venture began.

“Through Fivecast Insight, we have developed a world-leading solution to a global security problem. Using AI, the product generates efficiencies in the collection and analysis of big data that simply haven’t been possible before now,” he said.

“This is incredibly important when we consider our clients are often performing time-critical law enforcement and national security activities; efficiencies in this realm are game-changing on a global scale.”

Fivecast Insight can extract potential threats from open-source data for authorities, using automation to quickly find intel that can take analysts far longer.

Dr Cooper says it’s delivered in a way that’s easy to understand.

“The Fivecast Insight platform has capability to detect threats by ingesting content across image, text and video media,” he said.

“Analysts can then comprehend the collective content and behaviour of a group of related, or similar entities, all monitored in real time.”

Main Sequence Ventures partner Martin Duursma said what impressed the fund about Fivecast was its strong research program that engaged with customers from the start.

“This research is what became Fivecast and now has a strong competitive edge in the market through their world leading machine learning algorithms,” he said.

Fivecast was founded two years ago as a spin-out from the Data to Decisions Cooperative Research Centre (D2D CRC), a collaboration between Australia’s national security agencies and various research organisations.

It’s initial backing came from funds from AusIndustry Accelerating Commercialisation and the South Australian Government. The $50 million South Australian Venture Capital Fund is a a co-investment fund backing the state’s startups, established by the SA government.