Showing posts with label start up. Show all posts
Showing posts with label start up. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Chinese fund GOEC to participate in Israeli cyber startup Kaymera $10mm investment round

Israeli cyber security startup Kaymera has raised $10 million in a round led by a Hong Kong / China venture fund GOEC with additional participation from Israeli angel investors Eddy Shalev and Yariv Gilat.

Using the newly raised capital, the company is expected to hire 10 new employees at their office in Herzliya as well as opening offices abroad.

Founded in 2013 and led by Co-Founder and CEO Avi Rosen, Kaymera has developed a mobile cyber defense system to provide enterprises with a multi-stacked approach that includes hardware enforced endpoint protection, encrypted data and behaviour analytics to monitor and mitigate mobile threats.

Kaymera’s flagship product is a secure operating system called Kaymera 360°, which is available for the Samsung Galaxy, LG, Nexus, HTC and OnePlus One. It touts a three-tiered defense that blocks malware penetration, overlays a sophisticated resource permission process based on each app’s risk assessment, and a third layer that analyzes app misbehavior and deploys countermeasures.

The company was co-founded by CEO Avi Rosen, Shalev Hulio, and Omri Lavie in 2014. Hulio and Lavie’s previous venture, NSO, also received angel support from Eddy Shalev.

Monday, February 1, 2016

2015: Funding for Israeli high-tech hits all-time high

Israeli tech companies raised $4.43 billion in 2015, 30% more than in 2014. The number of deals was also a record. 2015 was a record year for fund raising by Israel's high tech industry.

Israeli tech companies raised $4.43 billion last year in 708 deals, according to figures released by IVC Research Center and KPMG. The amount and the number of deals are both all-time highs. The amount raised is 30% above the previous high, recorded in 2014, when 690 deals totaled $3.42 billion. The average deal peaked as well, at $6.3 million in 2015, compared with the previous year's $5 million average round and a $4 million average in the past ten years.

The fourth quarter of 2015 was especially successful, in fact the best ever. Israeli start-ups raised an aggregate $1.2 billion in the quarter, 11% more than in the third quarter, and 10% more than in the fourth quarter of 2014.

VC-backed deals accounted for 72% of capital raised in 2015, with an outstanding $3.2 billion closed in 397 deals, or only 56% of deals. The past three years have seen consistent 30% annual growth in capital raising in VC-backed deals.

The compilers of the report comment, "It seems the increase in VC-backed capital raising is therefore mostly explained by the increase in the size of the average financing round where VC funds participated. The average VC-backed deal in 2015 reached nearly $8 million, an unprecedented record, well above the $5.9 million average in 2014, and much higher than the $4.4 million average VC-backed deal in 2013." Ofer Sela, partner at KPMG Somekh Chaikin's Technology Group, warns that the slowdown in investment in the rest of the world will catch up with Israel.

"In the last quarter of 2015, the trend Israel ran contrary to that of the rest of the world. While global markets were affected by the slowdown in the Chinese stock market, an unstable global economy and the interest rate hike in the US, Israel remained untouched by this global wariness. We expect the Israeli market to slow down if the bear market persists. The general current sentiment in the Israeli market is that 'winter is coming'," Sela said.

IVC Research Center CEO Koby Simana said, "As of the second quarter of 2014 and throughout the past year, we have repeatedly pointed to the uptrend in the number of large deals and their sizes. We’ve seen growth stage companies raising substantial capital to boost their growth rates and grab larger market shares. The trend was largely fueled by the influx of capital from foreign investors, and a shift in market trends may indeed cause a slowdown on that front.

"However, there’s still room for Israeli high-tech companies to find both organic and non-organic growth, and materialize their full potential. We’ve seen in the past year a 25 percent hike in the number of Israeli growth stage companies, and the numbers keep growing. At the same time, there’s an increase in the capital dedicated to growth investments by late stage and growth focused VC funds, which are expected to continue investing even if the market slows, or even capitalize on the slight decline in valuations that a possible slowdown may cause."

Israeli venture capital funds accelerated their activity in 2015, investing $653 million, which compares with $568 million in 2014. Their share in the total amount of capital raised, however, continues to fall, reaching a low of 15% in 2015, compared with 17% in 2014 and a 30% average share in the past ten years.

Israeli VC funds placed a total of $236 million in first investments, which accounted for 36% of their total placements, up from 30% in 2014 and 2013. In the breakdown by sector, in 2015, 181 software companies led all capital raising with $1.3 billion or 29% percent of the total capital. They were followed closely by Internet companies, with 172 deals raising just under $1.3 billion. The life science sector followed, with 22% of the total capital raised in 2015.

Published by Globes, Israel business news on January 25, 2016

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Chinese fund CEIIF to Invest in Israel Cyber Company ImVision

Chinese venture capital fund, CreditEase Israel Innovation Fund (CEIIF) participated in a $4mm investment round in the Israeli cyber security company ImVision Technologies. Also participated in the round Israeli venture capital Pitango.

mVision is a cyber security startup company that operates in NFV/SDN environments. The company quickly became a market leader for anomaly detection and isolation. This was based on unique Correlative Behavioral Analysis algorithms that specializes in service awareness across the entire network.

The company was established in 2014 by Sharon Mantin, Yossi Barshishat and Dr. Eli Plotnik and has 14 employees. The company will use the funds to scale up development of their products. ImVision raised to-date $500,000 in seeds funds.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hong Kong VC Arbor Ventures to Invests in Israeli Startup TravelersBox

Israel's TravelersBox, which allows travellers to convert leftover foreign currency into digital currency, said on Thursday it raised $10 million led by Arbor Ventures.

Based in Hong Kong, Arbor Ventures focuses on the intersection of big data, financial services and digital commerce.

Also participated in the round existing investors such as Pitango Venture Capital, IPE Ventures, Pereg Ventures, iAngels and Global Blue.

The company has raised $15.5 million to date. TravelersBox operates kiosks in airports throughout the world and has facilitated several million transactions to date. Travellers can convert foreign change and bills that can be deposited into a PayPal account, turned into gift cards for retailers or used to make charitable donations.

The new funds will enable TravelersBox to grow, specifically in Asia as its next deployments are expected to be in Japan, India and New Zealand. The company plans to deploy an additional 300 kiosks this year.

It also aims to accelerate product development, including an application that will enable consumers to convert their change into digital currency in their home country when shopping at airport-based retail outlets throughout the world.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Hengtong GEOC To Invest In Israeli Medical Company Insightec

Israeli medical company InSightec, which has developed a platform for non-invasive therapy for the treatment of early detected cancerous tumors and functional diseases of the nervous system using ultrasound, raised US$22m.

The current investment round is the fourth investment round in the company.

The investors were Boston MedTech Advisors, Elbit Imaging, GE Healthcare, York Capital and Chinese VC fund Hengtong GEOC.

To date, the raised US$254mm, most of the amount of Elbit Medical.

Hengtong GEOC, based in Shanghai, China, is a Sino-Israel fund established in 2013 aiming to invest in Israeli startups and help them to penetrate into Chinese market.

InSightec is the pioneer and global leader in MR guided focused ultrasound technology. Founded in 1999 by GE Healthcare (then GE Medical Systems) and Elbit Medical Imaging its mission is to transform its MR guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) into a clinically viable technology.

Insightec technology currently found in 120 leading medical centers around the world, can be likened to focusing sunlight through a lens: only the center, where all the waves converge, created enough heat to destroy the tumor, while minimizing damage to adjacent organs damage prevention. Its purpose is to replace surgical procedure Non-invasive treatment that allows the patient to return to his speed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Chinese VC to Invest in Israeli Company IOPtima

Two venture capital funds, one from China and one from Taiwan, are investing $6 million in IOPtima at a company valuation of $20.7 million. Their investment is part of a $7.2 million financing round by the company, in which IOPtima's parent company Bio-Light Israeli Life Sciences Investments Ltd. is also participating with a $1.2 million investment.

The venture capital funds from China and Taiwan will jointly own 29%, and private minority shareholders will own 1%.

IOPtima has developed and begun to market in a number of countries a system for glaucoma operations without penetrating the internal part of the eye.

The proceeds from the financing round will be used mainly for the company's marketing efforts, and $1 million will be used to repay a past loan from Bio-Light.

The investment agreement includes a clause stating that if IOPtima does not generate $13.7 million revenue within three years and/or does not submit a request for marketing approval of one of its products within two years, the investors will be allocated more shares in the company at no additional cost. If the company does not obtain marketing approval in the US within five years, or does not accumulate $13.7 million in revenue within three years, the investors can make a forced sale and offer their holdings to a third party at a value of at least $37 million, subject to first refusal rights for Bio-Light.

"The agreement constitutes confirmation from an external independent source of the quality of IOPtima's technology and business potential," said Bio-Light CEO Suzana Nahum-Zilberberg, "The investment agreement is strategically important for IOPtima and Bio-Light, and is expected to contribute to IOPtima's penetration and sales in global markets, and to the approval process for the product and approval for marketing it in the US and commercializing it in this significant market."

A few months ago, Chinese investor Patrick Lau invested NIS 26 million in Bio-Light for 18.9% of the company. Other shareholders include Israel Makov, the current chairman, and Dilip Shanghvi, founder of Sun Pharmaceuticals, India’s largest pharmaceutical company, who own 12.7% and 14% of the company, respectively.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Youzu Interactive To Invest In Israeli Startup WakingApp

Israeli startup WakingApp, which provides tools for quick and easy creation of augmented and virtual reality content, has raised $4.3 million in Series C funding from Youzu Interactive (SZSE: 002174) as well as one of largest Internet and search companies in China.

Funds from the round will be used to expand the company’s AR/VR platform offerings and expanding its sales, marketing and business development in the US and China.

The two Chinese companies join existing investors Inimiti VC and Globis Capital in the round.

For Youzu, an entertainment company specializing in online game development and distribution, this is its first investment in an Israeli-based startup and represents an opportunity to move AR/VR content creation tools into the Chinese market.

WakingApp is based in Rosh Ha'ayin and founded in 2013.

The company has developed a groundbreaking AR/VR platform to enable any person even those with no prior programming experience to create advanced interactive augmented reality and virtual reality content that includes live data feeds, high-quality 3D imaging and animation, and games. Content can be created and distributed quickly and easily with the ENTiTi platform and is accessible online on smartphones, tablets and leading smart glasses without the need for additional devices.

“For some time now, we have been seeking to invest in AR/VR technology, as it is on the verge of influencing every aspect of our lives. It is an industry that is projecting 13,000% growth in three years and revenues of $150 billion in five years,” said Daniel Chen Fan, Investment Director of Youzu Interactive. “What impresses us about WakingApp is its ability to overcome a great user barrier by simplifying the way one creates AR/VR content, and we plan to bring this revolution to the Chinese market.”

Monday, October 5, 2015

Vertex Gets $857m from Temasek, will invest in US, Israel and China

Published on the Straits Times 3/10/2015

Armed with a war chest of US$600 million (S$857 million), Singapore's largest and oldest venture capital firm is going global.

The infusion of cash will allow Vertex Venture Holdings to invest in start-ups in the hot seats of innovation and technological disruption - United States, Israel and China - after having been mainly focused on Singapore and Asia.

Chief executive Chua Kee Lock identified healthcare as a new area of funding in addition to its ongoing interest in technology, media and Internet-based start-ups. The funds will be invested in firms ready to expand with proven products and revenue streams, he told The Straits Times.

Typically, each start-up in this growth phase would receive funding of $2 million or more.

Europe is the only region that has no Vertex presence but Mr Chua said he is looking to open an office there. Vertex's new war chest was the result of an investment from its parent company, Temasek Holdings. Mr Chua said the success Vertex has enjoyed in the past few years gave Temasek and Vertex chairman Teo Ming Kian confidence that it could go global.
The firm's research also showed that top venture capital companies like America's Andreessen Horowitz can make returns of about 30 per cent. There will also be sustained technological disruption in various industries due to a variety of factors, including lower cost of computing and communications, he added. "The challenge for us is, can we benchmark to the best?"
Vertex thinks it can as its return on investment for its last fund of US$250 million was about 30 per cent. This fund has invested about US$190 million in around 30 start-ups in Asia. The rest of the cash will be used for follow-on funding for its portfolio companies.
Vertex was an early investor in luxury e-commerce portal Reebonz and mobile taxi app GrabTaxi. It has publicly listed about four start-ups, including mobile game developer IGG, which was listed in Hong Kong in 2013.
It has also sold another six, including Chinese app distribution platform 91 Wireless, for undisclosed figures.
Mr Chua said with a global network, Vertex can have first dibs on potential billion-dollar start-ups because it will have insight on emerging and disruptive technology trends in the world. This information can be shared across its network, giving the firm an advantage in spotting the potential winners. "Now we'll be able to match our interest with our investments." Vertex's global foray has already begun to pay off.
It will reap a tidy profit when its portfolio company, medical device maker Twelve, which it funded about four months ago for an undisclosed figure, is acquired for US$458 million by medical technology and services company Medtronic. The acquisition was announced in August.
Its global strategy focuses on co-investments with its investment partners in the US, China and Israel.
Vertex has used part of its war chest to make substantial investments in venture funds set up by its partners.
Each fund is between US$120 million and US$200 million.
"We allow our partners to form their own funds, but we also invest in their funds. They get a chance to be their own bosses but they remain part of the Vertex family. This way, the partners can help each other," said Mr Chua.
To align the interests of everyone, a small percentage of the global profit each year will be shared by the 30-man investment team in the Vertex network. 
Mr Chua noted: "This way, the partner in Israel who helps one of us in Singapore will feel that he is contributing to the pot of bonus."

Sunday, May 3, 2015

April 2015 - Fund Raising and Exits in the Start Up Nation

·         American PE fund Francisco Partners buys Clicks Software for $433m;
·         Blackberry buys WatchDox ( for $150m;
·         Check Point (NASDAQ:CHKP) buys Lacoon Networks for $100m
·         Music Messenger ( raised $30m from Roman Abramovich, David Guetta and others;
·         Via ( raises $27m;
·         Tapingo ( raised $22.4m from Qualcomm Ventures, DCM Ventures, Carmel Ventures and Khosla Ventures;
·         Apple buys LinX for $20m;
·         Loop Commerce raised $16m from varies private investors;
·         Triplay ( raised $11m in a round led by Kenges Rakishev;
·         Windward raised $10.8m from Horizon Ventures;
·         Wix buys for $10m;
·         Zebra Medical ( raised $8m from Khosla Ventures, and Deep Fork Capital;
·         Baidu invested $5m in Tonara (;
·         InfinityAR ( raised $5m from Sun Corporation, Singulariteam and Platinum Partners;
·         EyeYon raises $3.6m from TriVentures, Pontifax and JDA;
·         Carmel Ventures led a $3.5m investment round in Yeloha (;
·         Folloze ( raised $3.3m from NEA, Cervin Ventures and TriplePoint Ventures;
·         GameEffective ( raised $3m from Verint, 2B Angeles and Shaked Ventures;

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Israeli Startups Raise Impressive $994 Million In First Quarter Of 2015

According to a report released by IVC Research Center, 166 Israeli startup companies raised a whopping $994 million from venture capital firms in the first quarter of 2015, the second-best result in the last decade.

Even more telling, this figure was 48 percent higher than the $673 million raised by 160 companies in the first quarter of 2014. However, it is still 10 percent below the record high $1.1 billion invested in 184 companies in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The average company financing round averaged at $6 million, equal to the previous quarter’s average, but well above the $4.2 million average raised in the first quarter of 2014. The IVC report also shows that in the first quarter of 2015, 91 VC-backed deals accounted for $832 million – 84 percent of the total capital invested.

The average VC-backed deal peaked at $9.1 million, compared to $7.7 million and $6.1 million in the fourth and first quarter of last year, respectively.

And the figures show foreign investment is still leading, proving how high up on international investors’ lists Israeli startups have become. Indeed, the vast majority of investment in Israeli startups is foreign: Israeli venture capital firms invested only $180 million in local startups and high-tech companies, or 18 percent of all investments, in the first quarter this year.

Best-ever quarter for Israeli internet startups

The research also shows Internet companies are still leading the pack in terms of deal flow: The sector experienced its best quarter ever with $343 million raised by 44 companies, a 35 percent slice of the funding pie.

The life sciences and software sectors followed, accounting for 22 percent and 19 percent of total capital raised, respectively.

“The increase in high-tech capital raising is not coincidental, but directly reflects the trend toward growth company investments and higher valuations of mid- and late-stage companies,” Koby Simana, CEO of IVC Research Center, said in a statement. He further commented that “up to a year ago, we were accustomed to seeing average financing rounds of $3 million to $4 million in the internet sector. In recent quarters though, we’ve been observing a distinct rise in the average internet financing round. This trend is even more evident among growth-stage internet companies for which the average deal jumped from $6 million about a year ago to $16.3 million in the first quarter of 2015.”

Partly responsible for the high investments in the first quarter of 2015 were content marketing startup Taboola, which raised $117 million in February; and mobile app search company Quixey, which raised $60 million in a funding round led by Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba. But IVC’s analysis shows that “those were not unique events, They fit in well with the activity surrounding the internet sector and the rise in the number of early-stage investments. These parallel trends mostly feed each other as the increase in growth-stage internet companies attracts more entrepreneurs and investors into the sector.” Simana predicts that these success stories “will drive the volume of growth deals as well as contribute to increase seed-stage investments, which up until last quarter, were on the decline.”

Monday, November 17, 2014

Qihoo 360 Plans $60 Million Israeli IoT Fund

Source: Wall Street Jurnal, By Orr Hirschauge

Chinese Internet-security company Qihoo 360 Technology Co. plans to establish a global, early-stage fund with a $60 million target size for investments in Internet-of-Things companies, according to a presentation shown last week by a company representative during a visit in Israel.

The intended fund, called 360 Capital—IoT Fund will focus on investments in China, the U.S. and Israel, the presentation says. Qihoo, which listed American depository receipts on the New York Stock Exchange in 2011, develops and distributes free personal-computer and mobile-security software, deriving revenue from advertising.

The company also has a Web browser and a mobile-application store. With around 7,000 employees, its current market capitalization is more than $9 billion. Qihoo didn't respond to a request for comment.

Qihoo intends to be the leading limited partner in the fund, with other limited partners including both strategic investors and financial institutions, the presentation says. While the fund will be focused on early-stage investments it will be flexible enough to enable later-stage investments, it says.

Qihoo has made several investments in Israel over the past year, including investments in two of the country’s leading venture funds, Carmel Ventures and Jerusalem Venture Partners. It has also led a round of investment in Israeli image-recognition-technology company Cortica Inc.

The company has made at least two more investments in Israeli startups, according to a person familiar with the deals: one in gesture-control-technology company Extreme Reality Ltd. and another in messaging-app maker Glide Talk Ltd. Both companies declined to comment.

Interest in Israeli tech investments by Asian investors, and specifically Chinese investors, has grown significantly in the last two years. In 2013, Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics Co. announced a $100 million fund dedicated to investments in the U.S. and Israel, and Chinese financial-services company Ping An allocated a fund focused on the same geographies in November 2013.

Other Chinese companies investing in Israeli venture funds have included Lenovo Group Ltd. and Baidu Inc. During the past two weeks, a representative of Qihoo met with numerous Israeli startups, including ones developing technology for wearable computing and connected homes, according to a person familiar with the company’s activities.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ericsson buys Israeli startup Fabrix Systems for $95 million

Ericsson today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Israeli startup Fabrix Systems, a leading provider of cloud storage, computing and network delivery for video applications that today power some of the most advanced cable and telecom cloud DVR deployments. Fabrix Systems further extends Ericsson's leading TV and media portfolio with a cloud based scale out storage and computing platform focused on providing a simple, tightly integrated solution optimized for media storage, processing and delivery applications such as cloud DVR and video-on-demand (VOD) expansion.

The approach takes advantage of the latest advances in clustered storage; grid computing; virtualization and video processing technologies enabling a wide range of applications. The acquisition enables new services and migration to cloud DVR deployments in all TV platforms including Ericsson MediaFirst and Ericsson Mediaroom. It also adds to Ericsson's video-centric network and services capabilities to ensure that video can be managed, stored and delivered from the cloud to all TV Anywhere devices efficiently and with assured quality of experience. As TV evolves ever more rapidly in the Networked Society, the rise of broadband connectivity, cloud services, and mobility will lead to a highly disruptive period in the entire media value chain. Ericsson's annual ConsumerLab TV & Media Report shows consumers are rapidly embracing TV services that provide immediacy, ease of access, and personalized relevance.

This acquisition accelerates Ericsson's capability to meet consumers' expectations in the way they want to enjoy TV today and into the future. It will enable TV service providers to migrate key consumer services and applications into the video cloud while at the same time ensuring the delivery of video efficiently and with assured quality of experience to TV Anywhere devices.

Per Borgklint, Senior Vice President and Head of Business Unit Support Solutions at Ericsson says, "We are investing significantly across our TV platform and video-network areas to extend our market leadership position. Our Media Vision 2020 shows that traditional TV is shifting rapidly towards TV Anywhere and Ericsson's leadership in broadcast, video and networks places us in a unique position to enable the most demanding customers to define and deliver the future of TV. Fabrix Systems further positions Ericsson to help customers deliver on the Networked Society's global demand for personalized video content on any screen, at any time."

Ram Ben-Yakir, CEO and co-founder of Fabrix Systems, says: "TV service providers, particularly those with IP delivery networks, are accelerating their network architecture investments in video optimization to deliver on the promise of TV Anywhere. Through worldwide deployments of our cloud storage and computing capabilities, we have enabled leading TV service providers to provide consumer services such as DVR through cloud-based deployments, lowering costs and enabling a more unified consumer experience in content on-demand." Fabrix Systems was founded in 2006 with offices in the US and Israel and brings a team of highly skilled cloud computing software engineers. The company has 103 employees.

The purchase price for 100% of the shares in Fabrix Systems is USD 95 million. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter, 2014, subject to customary closing conditions. Fabrix Systems will be incorporated into Business Unit Support Solutions.

Source: NASDAQ

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Israel's Chief Scientist Eases Terms For High-Tech Grants

The Office of the Chief Scientist announced a series of benefits for Israeli high-tech companies that enjoy their services.

Among the benefits: the salary cap for R&D workers was updated so it is possible to pay up to NIS 30,000 per month from the Chief Scientist’s grant awarded to the company, instead of the current cap of NIS 25,000; an advance of 35% (instead of 25%) of the budget from moment grant is approved; monthly (instead of quarterly) indemnity for company expenses; an extension of the timelines for submitted various requests; authorizing royalty payment plans for troubled companies; a shortened application form for companies requesting a budget of up to NIS 1 million for innovation in traditional industries; and increasing the indemnity cap for patent-related expenses from NIS 120,000 to NIS 140,000.

These benefits do not increase the operating budget of the Office of the Chief Scientist, rather, they primarily give companies more operating freedom within their approved budgets, and reduce bureaucracy. According to Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett, the decision to award these benefits was due to signs of slowdown in the market, and this is to fuel the leading growth engines of the economy.

Chief Scientist Avi Hasson said, “We are facing a budgetary reality that is not simple: the budget is far from meeting the demand, and we are forced to refuse many good projects with real potential. Through regulatory flexibility and creating new unique tools to support growth, we are trying to overcome the erosion and the budget cuts.”

Source: Globes

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Why Are Israeli Startups Leading The Tech World?

People lined both sides of Boylston Street, rounds of cheers going up as runners approached the end of the 2013 Boston marathon. Then white smoke plumed. Windows splintered. Fifteen seconds later, another explosion, and glass shattered onto blackened cement. The detonations knocked athletes to the ground, in some cases blowing the shoes off their feet. Three people died, and another 264 were injured. The FBI started investigating while first responders were still rushing to the scene. Within three days -- just 101 hours -- the bombers were apprehended. FBI agents sifted through 13,000 videos and more than 120,000 photographs, drawn from surveillance cameras and onlookers' cell phones. To sort through the piles of footage, law enforcement turned to new technology that can condense an hour of video into just a minute of playback time. 

The method, called video synopsis, was invented by an Israeli company called BriefCam, which counts all the right three-letter agencies as clients. (The FBI declined to comment on the specifics of the Boston investigation.)
Video synopsis works in a variety of ways, but most programs layer actions that occur at the same place at different times, making it possible, for example, to see simultaneously every person who walks in a door on a given afternoon. Other notable inquiries have also used BriefCam, like Norway's national security service after Anders Breivik bombed a children's camp there in 2011.

Shmuel Peleg, a co-founder of BriefCam and a professor of computer science at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, says the original intention for the tool was a long way from law enforcement. "One of my students had three kids," he said, and was hoping to come up with a better way of viewing their home videos. The eureka moment came when "one of our friends said most video on earth comes from stationary cameras," Peleg said. "He was in the military at the time," Peleg explained, and immediately thought of surveillance footage. Security cameras at Israel's borders watch for tunnel activity, but it can be hard to identify suspicious behavior in real time. "BriefCam makes it possible to integrate information that happens in a large temporal space," Peleg says, making it perfect for consistent monitoring.

But that a civilian idea was immediately put to military use is not surprising. BriefCam's origin story reveals a common trend in Israel. "The general awareness people here have for risk is always present," Peleg says, and this mentality has made its mark on the country's business climate, influencing technological developments. "Maybe Israelis learn less things [in school] but they know how to come up with ideas, how to manage to survive," Peleg said. "Every one of us is concerned with security." Military life has left an indelible mark on Israel's booming start-up scene, leading the country to the frontlines of the tech ecosystem in odd ways.

This sway manifests most obviously in the security world. After spending six years in an elite tech unit in the Israel Defense Forces, Giora Engel, another Hebrew University alumnus, co-founded a start-up called LightCyber. LightCyber detects computer glitches in corporate environments, focusing on a new wave of electronic threats, which have moved past malware to specifically targeting companies ("like the Target data breach this last November," Engel says.) While in the Defense Forces (IDF), Engel, who has bright red hair and freckles, managed high-risk projects, including coding mission-critical systems. He says Israel is leading the world in cyber-security because people leaving the Army bring "expertise that was previously only found in the defense industry." He continued, "The nation-state cyber-breaks we were accustomed to in the military have now proliferated into the [tech] industry."

Peleg echoed Engel, saying that because of Israel's mandatory army participation, "my students are often called away from their research for reserve service." He said, "You can't think creatively while in service. You only care about survival." But upon his students' return, "new ideas come," enriching research programs.

In addition to fresh thinking, working in an environment where there are often immediate applications of new developments has driven quick innovation. Mantis Vision, a company that uses 3D imaging for a variety of mapping applications, had the Israeli government as an early client for a confidential project. "What I can tell you is this wasn't a product developed for a lab, but a real product that was used," said co-founder Amihai Loven.

Israel is an environment where "there's zero tolerance for work-arounds," Loven said. Part of what's pushing the country's tech boom, he said, is that "there's a lot of pressure to develop something something that actually works, and not just in lab environments." This provides a primal urgency that headquarters in Silicon Valley strewn with kegs and Ping-Pong tables can lack.

"Look at the recent conflict," Loven said, referring to July's deadly flare-up between Hamas and Israel. "The Iron Dome performance is like nothing you can develop in an R&D environment without a threat." The anti-missile system is designed to blow up incoming missiles before they land, and has been deployed frequently in the last month. Despite concerns the Iron Dome is actually less effective than the IDF claims, and setting aside much debate about the imbalance of force between the two sides of the conflict, the Iron Dome is far more sophisticated than alternative anti-rocket systems.

In the long run, the perceived pressure to make things that actually work can be a good thing for the market. "Products need to start high-end from the beginning in order to mature into consumer products," Loven said, citing GPS's beginnings as a defense tool. "If it's just starting as a gadget, there's a glass ceiling" on its utility, he explained.
So perhaps it makes sense there's an unusual amount of governmental support for new ideas. Giora Engel of LightCyber says government organizations are often slow adopters, taking their time in using new technology. But Israel was one of the first countries to develop a cyber-security division, all the way back in 1997. Since then, the country's quietly dominated all sorts of cyber projects -- not least Stuxnet, the notorious computer worm designed in a joint project between U.S. and Israeli forces that took out a fifth of Iran's nuclear centrifuges in 2010.

More recently, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upped the ante, in 2011 creating the National Cyber Bureau (NCB), which reports directly to Netanyahu's office and increased the country's cyber-defense budgets by 30 percent. He made no bones about its purpose, saying, "We established the National Cyber Bureau for the purpose of transforming the state of Israel into a cyber superpower." NCB trickle-down extends to the startup world: "There's a lot of support for new technology from the government," Engel said, "because they realize that startups can bring them the most cutting edge technology and are valuable to the economy." Statistics suggest the strategy is working: 14.5 percent of all firms worldwide garnering cyber investment are owned by Israelis.

Of course, there are disadvantages of running a business in a region plagued by violence and dominated by the military. Engel said that in July, while business has continued, more or less as usual, in the startup scene, "Some people have been called to their reserve duty in their military units. And it's hard to have conference calls when any moment you may have to run to a bomb shelter."

"In this crazy country, you're always under pressure," Loven said. "If it's not defense, it's to win in the market."

Chinese Financial Investor Invested in Israeli Startup Saguna Networks

Israeli start-up company Saguna Networks announced today a significant round of investment. Saguna has developed systems which significantly improve the transfer of rich content (video, music and games) over mobile networks, making it more efficient and less expensive to do so. Saguna's innovative systems enable mobile operators to provide rich content to a wide audience, using a profitable business model.

Saguna successfully raised $2 million in the current round, which was let by a US based global communications provider and a Chinese financial investor. Existing shareholders also participated in the round. 


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Israeli Patents Up 20% In 2013, Mostly In Pharmaceutical Field

The number of patents registered by Israeli research institutions rose by an impressive 20% in 2012-2013 compared to the previous two years, the Science, Technology and Space Ministry disclosed on Tuesday. The field with the most innovations was prescription drugs. A survey by the ministry’s National Council for Research and Development found that 1,438 patents were registered – 1,000 of them completely new (not registered before in other countries).

The innovations led to the founding of 72 start-up companies here in the past two years. The patents were registered by university research and development companies, hospitals and state-owned research institutes. The university R&D companies specialized mostly in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, physics, electronics, electrophysics, chemistry and nanotechnology. In the hospitals, the innovations were mainly in medical technology, while in the government research institutes they were in agriculture and plant genetics.

In 2012 and 2013, 967 applications for new patents were made.

Although the national council welcomed the increase in registered patents, “there still is a major gap between the many academic achievements in Israeli research institutes and the economic and application potential of know-how, Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri said. “We are working with a lot of energy to reduce the gaps and increase government investment in applied research.”

While intellectual property in medications is prominent when measured by revenue, national council chairman Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael said, it must be remembered that the high income from them is from a small number of successful drugs such as Copaxone (for multiple sclerosis) and Exelon for Alzheimer’s disease. “If we don’t increase our investments to bring about more developments in additional critical fields, industry will suffer harm in the near future and merely stand in place,” he added.

Income from Israeli intellectual property in 2012- 2013 totaled NIS 1,881 million.

Israeli-invented drugs provided 97 percent of this income, compared to 3 percent from innovations in physics, electronics, mathematics and electrooptics. 


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

China Everbright's Catalyst CEL Fund to Invest $42m in Israeli Technology Company Lamina Technologies

The Catalyst CEL Fund agreed to invest $42 million in Lamina Technologies, a Swiss-based maker of metal-cutting tools. Ten million dollars of Catalyst CEL’s $42 million investment will go toward funding global expansion of Lamina, and up to $32 million will be distributed to Lamina’s existing shareholders. The investment will give Catalyst CEL a controlling stake in Lamina, in partnership with the current management team led by Peleg and Yuval Amir, who co-founded the company in 2001. The Amir brothers will remain in their leadership position, and together they will be the second largest group of shareholders in Lamina.

Edouard Cukierman and Alain Dobkin, Managing Partners of Catalyst CEL, stated, “Under Peleg and Yuval Amir’s leadership, Lamina developed into a leading global designer, manufacturer and marketer of leading-edge precision carbide cutting tools with a strong presence and significant penetration of key global regions including Europe, APAC, Latam and N. America. We see significant opportunities for expansion into the China market.” Shengyan Fan, Managing Partner of Catalyst CEL noted: “Lamina is well positioned for China’s macro developments and the ongoing domestic technological upgrade as China is a key market with significant room for growth.”

The Catalyst CEL Fund, jointly managed by Catalyst Equity Management Ltd. (Catalyst) and China Everbright Limited, primarily targets mid-to-late stage companies with proven innovation and global presence, whose growth strategy is oriented towards, or includes expansion of activities into emerging markets with a special focus on the Greater China market or companies who produce products or provide business solutions that have a significant commercial potential in the above mentioned markets. Focus sectors for the Fund include agriculture, industrial, manufacturing, healthcare, water, energy, technology, media and telecommunication. The Fund has secured more than US$100 million at the first closing in March 2014.


Monday, August 25, 2014