The Israeli tech ecosystem had a record year in 2017, with startups and companies raising over $5 billion in investments, and much of it had to do with connections and introductions made through OurCrowd, the global equity crowdfunding platform’s CEO and founder Jon Medved told the audience at the opening plenary of the fourth annual OurCrowd Global Investor Summit in Jerusalem on Thursday.
Medved mentioned Israel’s largest high-tech exit to date – Intel’s buyout of Israeli vision-based sensor company Mobileye, for $15 billion – and listed a number of deals facilitated by OurCrowd, including the 18 OurCrowd portfolio exits reached in 2017, including Argus Cyber Security’s acquisition by German automotive manufacturer Continental AG’s for some $430 million.
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OurCrowd says it’s also responsible for the connections made between Israeli critical systems software company mPrest, which helped develop Israel’s Iron Dome, and New Zealand electricity and gas distribution company Vector Limited, and helped establish a partnership between Israeli medical imaging startup Zebra Medical Vision and American computing technologies company Nvidia.
“Everyone now understands how massive innovation is. We’re just catching a wave,” Medved told NoCamels, deflecting questions about OurCrowd’s direct involvement in some of 2017’s biggest high-tech deals.
OurCrowd’s annual summit at the Jerusalem International Convention Center came a day after it announced that it had raised $650 million for 145 startups and 12 funds since its founding in February 2013 and expects to surpass $1 billion in crowdfunded assets over the course of 2018.
Medved told NoCamels exclusively that OurCrowd had closed close to $100 million in investments in January 2018 alone.
Medved also says he is very selective when it comes to choosing the startups that work with the crowdfunding firm, noting he might look at 100 early-stage firms and only pick two. “Look at the companies we work with. We look for the ones that have done the work and are really going somewhere,” Medved said, “This is not about picking stocks. When we reach out to investors, we want them to know it’s about trust. We want them to be a part of something.”
Medved said OurCrowd utilizes the annual summit as a way to set themes and trends for the coming year, both in equity crowdfunding and more generally in the Israeli investment scene, referencing last year’s event where many Israeli industry leaders predicted the future success of blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings).
This year, the event drew some 10,000 attendees, including 1,000 startups, 500 venture capitalists, and 500 multinationals from 90 countries, the largest high-tech event of its kind in Israel.
The Innovation Revolution, as the summit was called, included lots of networking, breakout sessions, and over 90 exhibitions packed into the Jerusalem venue. Participants were able to check out case studies from Israel’s startup ecosystem, first-person accounts of startup tech changing the world and demos in a theater setting from companies like video synopsis tech startup Briefcam which assisted law enforcement in the aftermath of tragedies like the Las Vegas shooting last year, and the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.
Other exhibits included a Honda Xcelerator-sponsored Robotics Alley, where seven startups demonstrated devices and designs, a fashion tech plaza, a doctor’s office of the future where attendees could test out medtech, a groundbreaking Hackathon, and a 3D indoor race track for drone racing.
In one noteworthy breakout session, startups turned the tables on venture fund managers, asking venture capitalists the hard-hitting questions rather than the other way around.
Wisdom from the ‘OurCrowd’
Launched almost five years ago by Medved, OurCrowd now has 10 offices around the world including in the US, the UK, Spain, and Hong Kong. OurCrowd’s investor base grew in 2017 to include over 25,000 registered investors from 112 countries, the firm says, and its primary investor outside of Israel is the United States followed by Asia. OurCrowd’s total number of company investments is now at 145, after making 8,500 deals. OurCrowd’s notable investments for 2017 include DreaMed, a company creating viable solutions for insulin-dependent patients, Arbe Robotics, a startup that has created an advanced vehicular radar system, and augmented technology platform Edgybees.
“Basically, if you look at our business today, there’s a quadrant – at the partner level we have individual investors, that’s the crowd, that’s the 25,000 registered investors, but we also have now, for the first time, institutions and family offices that are joining us,” Medved said during the summit.
OurCrowd announced a day prior to the summit its Labs/02 seed stage incubator plans to invest in up to 100 early-stage companies over the next 10 years. It will make initial investments in Keepers, a mobile app that provides tools to help parents cope with social media addiction and cyberbullying, and C2A Security, a chip level security and safety platform the next generation of automobiles. The Labs/02 incubator focuses on breakthrough technologies like AI, deep learning, autonomous transportation, and smart cities. The incubator is a partnership among OurCrowd, Motorola Solutions, Reliance Industries, and Yissum, the Technology Transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It will be part of the Israeli incubator program administered by the Israeli Innovation Authority.
Last month, OurCrowd also announced the launch of a new, global $100 million fund for early-stage startups that specialize in artificial intelligence, robotics, IoT, and digital manufacturing. The fund, Cognitiv Ventures, will give investors access to roughly 20 companies, with initial investments in EquityX, an online venture funding platform, KolGene, which does genetic testing, and FreshKeep, an IoT start-up that designs food storage. Cognitiv General Partner. Cognitiv is the third fund offering of OurCrowd First, a leading Israeli seed-stage fund.