Michael Jones serves as president and CEO of the Security Network, which brings together small and medium-sized companies with innovative technologies and connects them with defense contractors and government agencies. He is also the president of ProFinance Associates and the CFO of Seabotics.
Jones was born in Germany while his father was with the U.S. Army, and has studied and spent time in Peru, Brussels and Italy. He speaks five languages, which he picked up during his days as a student and as a rising banking executive in the '70s and '80s, when he was sent to Europe.
After completing his master's in Advanced International Studies, he joined Marine Midland Bank as a commercial lender and was sent to Germany for three years. When he came back to the United States in the early '80s, he started a new group at the bank that focused on high-tech lending.
Back then, this placed the bank in an exclusive clique of just five banks that took the risk of lending to the high-tech sector.
"We were Intel's lead banker in France when it was a $600 million company, and we gave Microsoft a line of credit when it was a $25 million company," Jones said.
He later founded ProFinance, an investment banking firm that focuses on defense and security industries.
In 2004, along with Luke Kelly and Jackie Townsend, Jones founded the Security Network, starting with a conference that brought together law enforcement, defense, homeland security and private industry executives.
Since then, the organization has evolved and become more international. The events have broadened in focus to include the intelligence community, first responders and systems integrators and distributors. This year it hosted the first Maritime Collaboration Summit.
"We focus on promoting collaboration, innovation and rapid commercialization of dual usage security technologies. We also focus on developing effective regional security. We are not interested in guns and bullets or torpedoes, but in diverse technologies," Jones said.
His casting net trawls for companies with innovative technologies in the fields of cyber security, underwater security and health care, in addition to defense.
To this end, Jones has undertaken trips to Canada, France and Australia, and was in New Zealand when the Transcript caught up with him. These trips help spread awareness that the United States is actively scouting for groundbreaking technologies in these fields.
"San Diego has one of the largest ecosystems for defense and security in the world. About 27 percent of workers here are employed by the defense industry, and the government brings $1 billion in defense spending to the city. But defense is not as sexy as biotech or wireless, so not many are aware of the size of the security industry here," Jones said.
As the Security Network adds more events and becomes recognized, "We've put San Diego on the map, and people are realizing the opportunities to be part of the security industry here," he said.
Nagappan is a San Diego-based freelance business writer.