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February 20, 2018 | Israel visual aid company OrCam, which has developed a wearable and portable device that attaches to the frames of eyeglasses to assist those that have lost their vision, has completed a funding round that currently values the Jerusalem-based company at $1 billion, CEO Ziv Aviram announced Tuesday, according to Reuters. This puts them on the path towards a planned initial public offering (IPO), Aviram said.  The company raised $30.4 million by selling a 3 percent stake to investors like Israel’s Clal Insurance and Meitav Dash. This brings OrCam’s total amount raised to $130.4 million thus far. The successful funding round was announced at the same time as the launch of the newest version of OrCam’s wireless smart camera, which attaches to glasses. The camera reads texts, barcodes, and even has facial recognition features, speaking the information into the ear of the user. OrCam was developed by Aviram and Amnon Shashua, the same Israelis who founded Mobileye, a company that has developed a vision-based technology that provides driver assistance for autonomous vehicles and was acquired last year by digital tech giant Intel for $15.3 billion in Israel’s biggest exit to date. Aviram also said that he estimates OrCam’s growth to surpass the success of Mobileye. “I think the potential for OrCam is even bigger than Mobileye,” he told Reuters, “This technology is endless. We just started to understand the tip of the iceberg of what can be done.” In a year, the company hopes to raise an additional $100 million from global funds before going public in the U.S. He hopes by then the company will be valued between $1.5 – $2 billion before it is listed on the U.S. exchange. OrCam’s customer base is expected to expand to include those suffering from dyslexia or general fatigue while reading, according to Aviram, with the company beginning to yield a profit in 2019.

 

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morphisec logoFebruary 19, 2018 |Israeli cybersecurity startup Mophisec raised $12 million in a Series B funding round led by Orange Digital Ventures, the multinational’s early-stage fund focused on fintech. Also participating in the round were existing investors Jerusalem Venture Partners, GE, and Deutsche Telekom. The Beersheba-based company, founded in 2014 after growing out of Ben Gurion University’s Cyber Research Labs, developed a patented Moving Target Defense which is the foundation of its Endpoint Threat Prevention solution. The company says it “prevents threats others can’t, including APTs, zero-days, ransomware, evasive fileless attacks and web-borne exploits.” Morphisec President and CEO Ronen Yehoshua said in a statement. “We built Morphisec to become an essential part of every company’s security and IT operation, and to defeat attacks that other endpoint technology cannot.” The company plans to use the funds to expand its teams and build its business globally, Reuters reported.

ecosystem haifa 2018February 19, 2018 | Over 500 senior high tech executives, health professionals, academics, government officials and entrepreneurs attended the Ecosystem Haifa 2018 conference last week to focus on Haifa as a center of innovation and entrepreneurship as well as a global leader in the field of digital healthcare. The conference was led by former MK Erel Margalit’s National Initiative organization, the Haifa municipality, and the Haifa port, in cooperation with Haifa mayor Yona Yahav and Brad Bloom of the Boston-Haifa Connection, and with participation from global, high tech, research, academic and cultural institutions operating in Haifa. The conference, hosted by Margalit, is part of the Israel Initiative 2020 (ii2020), Margalit’s vision to create dynamic centers of excellence in seven regions throughout Israel with the goal of raising the standard of living and attracting employment, young professionals, and new families while also developing a regional ecosystem.  “Haifa has pioneering research institutions, one of the world’s leading medical companies, the presence of multinational companies and a flourishing entrepreneurial scene – combining these four elements together, around the digital health field can create thousands of jobs here,” Margalit said, according to a statement. According to Margalit, Haifa has revolutionized its lower city and he “has no doubt” it will do the same with its downtown area. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon opened the conference, announcing that the Ministry of Finance will be a full partner in the vision to transform the lower city into a center of innovation of entrepreneurship in the field of digital health. He also announced that American multinational corporation Intel will soon invest billions in expanding their production in Israel. This week, Globes reported that Intel is expected to invest between $4 to $5 billion into its expansion in Israel and that Kahlon made the announcement after receiving confirmation from Intel. Kahlon later revealed that Intel affirmed the planned investment with a positive response to a package of benefits they would be offered in exchange for the deal. At the conference, Intel Israel CEO Yaniv Gerti noted that more than 5,000 people are currently employed at the Intel branch in Haifa and that Intel will be expanding in the city and the region. He said that “the ecosystem created in Haifa provides us with a great environment for expanding activity and creating more jobs.” WeWork Israel CEO Benji Singer unveiled that WeWork is set to establish two WeWork facilitated spaces in the lower city and another one in a location that has not yet been revealed. Professor Rafi Beyar, director of Rambam Health Care Campus, also emphasized that Rambam wants to “bring down the barriers between medicine and research,” according to the statement, ” by connecting medical research to technology, digital health, and high tech leaders in the city.

intel, intel logoFebruary 18, 2018 | American multinational corporation and technology giant Intel, who last year acquired Israeli startup Mobileye for $15.3 billion in Israel’s biggest high tech exit to date, is expected to announce an estimated $4 to $5 billion investment into expanding its production in Israel, Globes reports. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon told the Knesset Finance Committee of Intel’s intentions today and said last week he had “received confirmation about this from Intel,” Globes said. Kahlon had already mentioned the planned investment last week at the Ecosystem Haifa conference, which led to speculation about the investment, and later admitted he wouldn’t have spoken about it without the approval of Intel. According to Globes, Kahlon revealed the planned investment upon receiving a positive response from Intel about a package of benefits it would receive in exchange for the investment. The agreement between Intel and the Israeli government will be presented to a committee of three including the Finance Minister Kahlon,, Minister of Economy Eli Cohen, and the head of the Israel Tax Authority. Sources told Globes they believe the package includes 20 to 30 percent of the investment in Israeli government grants and will probably include an upgrade of chip fab technology the Intel in Kiryat Gat, one of the world’s most advanced chip fabs.

February 16, 2018 | Israeli cybersecurity company Silverfort won the top spot in the Cybersecurity Excellence Awards’s Multi-Factor Authentication category, the company announced. The annual awards “honor individuals, products and companies that demonstrate excellence, innovation, and leadership in information security.” The Tel Aviv-based company, founded in 2016, developed a “platform that can seamlessly deliver strong authentication to every sensitive user, device and resource, across on-premise, cloud and hybrid environments,” without changes to user devices and servers. Silverfort co-founder and CEO Hed Kovetz said in a statement that the company was “honored to receive this award, which further validates our vision. We believe that user authentication must be reinvented to fit the current technology environment. Regular authentication solutions can no longer handle the scale, diversity and dynamic nature of today’s networks – integration becomes endless and many sensitive resources are left exposed. We present a new breed of authentication products that can instantly apply strong authentication across entire networks and cloud environments.”

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February 16, 2018 | Israeli startup CommonSense Robotics announced that it raised $20 million in a Series A funding round this week led by Playground Global, and previous investors including Aleph VC and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors. The Tel Aviv-based company aims to help online grocery retailers offer on-demand, one-hour deliveries using robotics and artificial intelligence. The funds will be used to expand the startup’s global operations. The company says its solutions enable retailers to shorten the supply chain with Micro-Fulfillment-Centers where robots sort and process inventory, and which are in close proximity to customers. CommonSense Robotics CEO and co-founder Elram Goren tells Techcrunch, “Our AI software breaks the order down into robot tasks, and finds the right robots to complete those tasks. We have robots that are capable of moving boxes (totes) around extremely efficiently and at high speeds. Our various types of robots will bring the right totes of products to a stationary human ‘picker’ who in turn packs the order, which is then sent by robots towards the delivery interface where orders are packed into a van or scooter for dispatch”. The company is set to deploy the robots in its first fulfillment center in Tel Aviv over the next three months, VentureBeat reports citing a statement from CommonSense, with plans to launch five spaces in the US and the UK in 2018.

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WeWorkFebruary 15, 2018 | WeWork, the international co-working space giant co-founded by Israeli Adam Neumann, with 212 locations and more than 200,000 members, has relaunched its WeWork Labs accelerator program with 27 spaces secured in 16 markets for 2018, according to a report in Tech Crunch. The WeWork Labs program ran in 2011, but was neglected as the company focused on other initiatives. With the relaunch, WeWork wants to offer very early stage startups a place to work and learn. The company has already opened its first location at 205 Hudson in New York City and will open its second in the Soho West office on March 1st.  WeWork Labs will be run by the company’s former Head of Digital Roee Adler. While most companies in an accelerator might pay for inclusion and space with equity, WeWork will continue its rent-based formula by asking companies to pay for space at a rental fee determined before membership. WeWork is setting up a loose curriculum where members will receive access to educational resources and courses. The company will also hold small group sessions and bring in guest speakers for discussions and lectures. There is no graduation date, although WeWork members and community members will work towards an established end goal. According to the report, the company expects community managers at each WeWork Labs location to be “potential mentors, vendors, customers or collaborators.” WeWork Labs does not want to compete with other accelerators, but does want to partner with as many organizations as possible. They are also looking to customize each program based on location of the WeWork Labs facility.

Technion Israel Institute of Technology logoFebruary 14, 2018 | Canadian medical cannabis producer and distributor WeedMD has announced it has joined the Cannabis Database Project led by Israel’s prestigious Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The two groups “will be collaborating in the research of cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles of 25 of WeedMD’s cannabis strains,” a statement said. The Technion has already profiled more than 150 strains, including all of the strains currently available under Israel’s regulated medical cannabis market. The data collected from this research will be added to an international database that associates pharmacological effects used to determine effective cannabis treatments for clinical purposes in Israel. The Cannabis Database Project aims to produce an integrated database with both clinical data on cannabis patients as and data on cannabis usage history for patients in Israel and abroad. Data from growers, HMOs, and other sources will be used for analyses aimed to identify specific treatments and organize them on a website for patients and doctors. “WeedMD is in a unique position to contribute data for our research studies and we’re proud to welcome them to our Cannabis Research Project,” said Dr. David Meiri, Head of the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Cannabinoid Research at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, who noted that members of the WeedMD team were recently hosted in Israel for important discussions on knowledge transfer and the collaboration.

February 14, 2018 | Israeli cybersecurity startup Perception Point, announced that it raised $8 million in a Series A funding round, led by Pitango Venture Capital along with State of Mind Ventures (SOMV) and Korea Investment Partners (KIP). The Tel Aviv-based company, founded in 2015, said it will use the funds to expand its global presence and product portfolio. Perception Point specializes in cyber threat detection and provides cloud and email solutions. It claims to have developed technology that “intercepts advanced attacks at the earliest possible stage of execution.” Perception Point CEO Yoram Salinger said in a statement, “Companies across industries are undergoing a transformation. As more and more move to the cloud, they require security solutions that are equivalent in terms of speed, scale and flexibility, while also being effective against the more advanced types of threats. At Perception Point, we saw an opportunity to serve both requirements – fusing the flexibility of a cloud solution with the threat visibility only possible at a CPU level.” Rami Kalish, the managing general partner and co-founder of Pitango Venture Capital, will join the company’s board of directors, Perception Point announced. SOMV’s Pinhas Buchris, a former managing director of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, has been a member of the board since 2015 when Perception Point raised $2 million in a seed round led by SOMV.

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February 13, 2018 | Visa announced that it is launching a new innovation studio in Tel Aviv this week, which will serve as a shared space for the US multinational corporation to work with Israeli FinTech startups “developing the next generation of payment solutions,” Visa said in a statement. The studio will be located at Visa’s offices on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, in the heart of the city’s financial scene. The company announced that it has selected four Israeli companies for immediate collaboration: AU10TIX, which automates customer ID authentication and onboarding initiation; HopOn, which has developed an innovative mobile payment and ticketing platform for public transportation; Idomoo, which offers personalized video as a service platform, and which in partnership with Arkia Israeli Airlines and Visa launched a local marketing campaign that addressed passengers with personalized videos on the advantages of using a Visa card at tourism destinations; and Personetics, which offers AI-powered cognitive banking solutions that allow for personalized customer experiences. Visa has innovation studios in Berlin, Dubai, London, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, San Paolo, Singapore, and Stockholm. The Tel Aviv studio will “streamline Visa’s integration with the local fintech start-ups, and enhance the collaboration with the local venture capital funds, other fintech centers, as well as Visa partners and customers in Israel and abroad,” the company says. Shahar Friedman, the head of the new studio and the acting general manager for Visa in Israel said, “Visa’s Innovation Studio is uniquely positioned to engage with Israel’s unparalleled fintech ecosystem as a gateway to thousands of Visa clients and retailers worldwide, who look for solutions to their challenges, or new ways to differentiate themselves in their competitive landscapes.”

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techstarsFebruary 12, 2018 | Israeli entrepreneur Hila Ovil-Brenner has been appointed the new managing director of the Tel Aviv-based Barclays Accelerator, powered by the Techstars program, the two companies announced in a joint statement. Ovil-Brenner will manage the three-month accelerator, a unique international program for startups in the fields of cybersecurity and financial technology. Ovil-Brenner, a serial entrepreneur, is the founder of the WhiteSmoke Software company, and Yazamiyot, Israel’s largest community for female entrepreneurs. She also set up Google Campus for Moms, an international innovation program for new mothers on maternity leave, run jointly by Yazamiyot and Google. The Barclays Accelerator, launched in 2016,  is a unique partnership between the British multinational bank and Techstars. It offers ten selected startups and entrepreneurs access to a wealth of resources, including experts, mentors, and investors in the fields of cybersecurity, insurance tech, fintech, and enterprise software as part of the 13-week program. The startups also have free access to the Rise Tel Aviv co-working space., and can draw up to $120,000 of investment from Techstars. Applications for the Barclays Accelerator close on February 25. The program will kick off on May 27 and conclude with a Demo Day on September 5 of this year.

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british embassyFebruary 12, 2018 | The UK Israel Tech Hub, based at the British Embassy in Israel, announced the launch of the UK Israel Dangoor Health Initiative, a new accelerator aimed at connecting Israeli startups in the digital health field with the UK National Health Service (NHS). The British Ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey, will be hosting an event on Monday to launch the program. The accelerator will select at least two early-stage digital health startups each semester and provide them with the guidance and tools to navigate the UK’s health system. It is backed by British-Jewish philanthropist David Dangoor, son of Sir Naim Dangoor, and is named after the family. Dangoor told the British daily Jewish News this week, “we are absolutely at the threshold of a healthcare revolution and I’m hoping that Israel and the UK will be at the forefront of that, hand-in-hand.” The UK Israel Tech Hub is working on the program together with the IBM Alpha Zone accelerator, which will prepare and deliver those startups through their 20-week deep immersion program, and DigitalHealth.London, a program aimed to speed up development and digital innovations across healthcare and adopted by the NHS. Israeli digital health startups will be chosen by the IBM accelerator and DigitalHealth.London. The program will run for four semesters over two years.

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cleantechFebruary 12, 2018 | Israeli cleantech startup MercuRemoval won first place in the seed track of the 2017 Global Ideas competition at the Cleantech Open awards, held in Los Angeles last week, the company announced in a statement. The environmental firm has developed a unique technology, under the exclusive license of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for the removal of mercury emitted by gasses of various industrial processes. The Cleantech Open Global Ideas program is a global search for the most promising clean-technology ideas and is held annually in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW.) The runner-up in this competition was Matteco, a German startup manufacturing high-quality rubber products from recycled scrap tires. Cleantech Open is the world’s largest accelerator of early-stage clean technology companies and since 2005, has trained and supported 1,2000 early-stage cleantech startup ventures. In 2017, the accelerator became a program of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI.)

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behalfFebruary 11, 2018 | On-demand financing company Behalf, which provides loans and on-demand payment tools to large and small business in the US, has secured $150 million in debt financing, the company announced last week. The round was led by a private investment fund managed by Soros Fund Management. Viola Credit of Israeli-based Viola Group also participated in the round. Both companies also made a private equity investment in Behalf. This replaces the $100 million in debt previously raised by the company. Brothers Benjy and Shai Feinberg founded Behalf in Ra’anana, Israel, along with Jeremy Esekow in 2011. The company’s software tech, based on big data, predictive analysis, and algorithms, allows users to get cash advances on the spot with flexible repayment terms.

platterz February 11, 2018 | Toronto-based AI-powered corporate catering platform Platterz has recently closed a $15 million Series A funding round led by Tel Aviv-based firm Aleph Venture Capital, the company announced this month. The ‘predictive meal builder’ platform providing on-demand catering options for corporate lunches, meetings, and events, plans to use the funds to “accelerate product development and global expansion in 2018”, according to a statement from the company. Platterz was founded by Israelis Eran Henig and Yishay Waxman, who came together when a mutual friend introduced the two entrepreneurs, the Financial Post reported in 2016. Both had already exited other tech companies. Aleph is also the venture capital fund with investors behind WeWork and Lemonade. Other investors in the Platterz investment round include existing investors AltaIR Capital and Globalive Capital.

 

February 11, 2018 | Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) announced that it will be launching a new tech division in Israel, expected to be in operation this summer, according to a report in the Taipei Times. A source in the ministry, speaking to the news site on condition of anonymity, said, “Taiwan and Israel are very similar — both are densely populated and have limited resources,” adding that Taiwan is seeking to draw on Israeli research and expertise on artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and biomedical tech, and its experience in developing innovative business models. The official said Taiwan will send local talent to Israel to work in the high-tech field through the ministry’s “Learn, Explore, Aspire, Pioneer” program, which sends persons under 40 years of age to the US’s Silicon Valley and France for 6-to-12-month internships. The ministry has 16 overseas tech divisions that work with Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs offices abroad.

oecdFebruary 9, 2018 | The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an economic organization with 35 member countries creating policies to improve economic and social well-being around the world, has ranked Israel as the 3rd most educated country in adult education of 10 listed countries, above the United States, which came in 6th place. The OECD looks at adult education level as defined by the highest level of education completed by the 25-64-year-old population in three areas: below upper-secondary, upper secondary and tertiary education in the form of a two-year degree, four-year degree or vocational program. According to the OECD, 49.90 percent of Israeli adults between the age of 25 and 64 have completed some kind of adult education, almost 4 percent above the US. Canada ranked as the most educated country with 56.27 percent and Japan came in second place with 50.50 percent. Other countries on the list included South Korea in 4th place, the United Kingdom in 5th, Australia, 7th, Finland, 8th, Norway, 9th, and Luxembourg, 10th.

times higher educationFebruary 8, 2018 | Five Israeli universities — Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, the University of Haifa, and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev — ranked in the top 200 of the 350 institutions published in the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2018 this week. The 6th annual Asia University Rankings 2018 published by Times Higher Education weekly magazine ranks the top 350 institutions from 25 countries/regions based on the same criteria as the World University Rankings, but “recalibrated to reflect the attributes of Asia’s institutions,” Times Higher Education said. Tel Aviv University was the highest-ranked Israeli higher education institution, taking the 25th spot in the rankings, but slipping three spots from last year’s rankings. Hebrew University took the 27th spot, while Technion ranked 41st. The University of Haifa took the 100th place and the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba was in the 104th spot. The rankings for these institutions are based on 13 performance indicators across areas that include teaching, research, international outlook and more. The National University of Singapore took the #1 spot for the third year in a row. China’s Tsinghua University and Peking University — both institutions that collaborate with Tel Aviv University — came in 2nd and 3rd place behind the University of Singapore.

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February 8, 2018 | The Israel Diamond Exchange is launching two separate digital currencies, Reuters reported this week, in an effort to revive the industry, make trading more efficient, and more transparent. Eli Avidar, managing director of the exchange, told Reuters, “This industry is facing challenges, and this is going to in a lot of aspects address those challenges … the profitability element of the business, the speed of doing business, money laundering aspects and the problematic elements of banking nowadays. The first coin will be known as the Cut, and will be “available only to dealers on a peer-to-peer basis,” with traders from around the world being eligible to “receive digital wallets after being vetted by the exchange, similar to today’s background checks,” according to the report. This aims to solve money transfers between traders and retailers. Pre-sale of the coin started this week and use of it will commence over the coming weeks, Avishai Shoushan, CEO of the year-old CARATS.IO, which created the coins for the exchange, told Reuters. The second coin, Carat, will be issued later this year and is meant “for institutional and retail investors who want to invest in the diamond market without taking possession of physical diamonds,” the report said. “We are creating a way for people to invest in the market without actually buying and selling diamonds,” Shoushan explained.

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sensus_healthcare_logoFebruary 7, 2018 | Florida-based medical device company Sensus Healthcare, a developer of non-invasive treatment of non-melanoma skin cancers using superficial radiation therapy (SRT), announced on Wednesday that it was opening an office in Tel Aviv to expand its footprint in the Middle East and Europe. Sensus Healthcare CEO Joe Sardano said opening an office in Israel, “the epicenter of cutting-edge aesthetic dermatology,” is an “obvious and natural next step” for the company as it seeks to bring its SRT-100 Vision systems, currently installed at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva and Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, to the world. Sensus Healthcare’s CTO Kal Fishman said, “A deeper foothold in Israel gives us access to collaborate with some of the most creative minds in the industry, which will ultimately help us to improve our technologies and expand our footprint across the globe.” He added, “Sensus’ commitment to non-invasive dermatological technology makes entering this progressive market a very logical choice.” The SRT-100 Vision system “features a unique integration of multimodality therapy and image-guidance technologies with software integration to provide enhanced precision, safety and quality in delivering SRT, electronic brachytherapy (eBx) and Grenz Ray therapy (GRT) in a seamlessly integrated and scalable platform,” according to a company statement. It received FDA clearance for the treatment of non-melanoma skin cancers and keloids in 2015.

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houzz logoFebruary 7, 2018 | The Israeli-founded interior design company Houzz, valued recently at $4 billion, has acquired an Israeli startup that developed a business management tool for designers and vendors for an undisclosed amount, but according to Globes report ranges between $30-40 million. Alon Cohen, Houzz co-founder and president, said in a press release, “IvyMark has built an incredible platform and team that align with our mission of providing the best experience for home renovation and design, by helping design professionals manage their business. We are excited to bring the power of IvyMark’s software and community to more professionals.” IvyMark, headquartered in New York with Tel Aviv offices, was founded in 2016 and previously raised $2.9 million from Disruptive VC, Pitango, and NFX. IvyMark cofounder Lee Rotenberg said the company was “delighted to join forces with Houzz, a natural fit for IvyMark when it comes to innovation, culture, and user base.” Alexandra Schinasi, also an IvyMark cofounder said, “Houzz will allow us to continue on our mission of modernizing the way interior designers do business, while introducing Ivy to a massive audience and opening the door to new opportunities.” Houzz is headquartered in Palo Alto.

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amdocs logoFebruary 7, 2018 | Ben-Gurion University and Israeli-founded multinational Amdocs have launched a joint research lab for cooperation on artificial intelligence and machine learning. The university’s Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering will work together with Amdocs “to further research on these critical issues,” Ben-Gurion University said in a statement. “We are excited about the launch of a new Amdocs-BGU research lab. The joint lab team will join forces to push the frontiers in these fields,” said Yaron Sverdlov, CIO of Amdocs, and Oleg Brodt, Head of Research and Development at BGU’s Cyber Security Research Center.

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MERCK_LOGO_Blue_RGBFebruary 7, 2018 | German pharmaceutical giant Merck has launched an innovation lab through its subsidiary Qlight Nanotech at the Edward J. Safra campus of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the company announced on Monday. The lab “emphasizes Merck’s commitment to Israel and the collaboration with the Hebrew University, with the aim to expand its developmental efforts in nanotechnologies and materials,” a statement said. Qlight Nanotech was established through Yissum, the technology transfer company of Hebrew University and is supported by the Israel Innovation Authority. It partners Hebrew U’s Professor Uri Banin and Merck. Qlight was recognized in 2014 as “Nanotechnology Company of the Year,” by the Chief Scientist of Israel and was fully acquired by Merck in mid-2015. It focuses on the research and development of cadmium-free quantum materials for use in display applications and supports Merck’s development in liquid crystal display materials and OLED materials.

February 6, 2018 | Israel’s MDClone, a Beersheba-based company providing healthcare data in real-time, announced on Monday it has raised $15 million in total funding from Tel Aviv-based seed stage venture capital firm OrbiMed Israel Partners and American VC firm Lightspeed Venture Partners. OrbiMed led the company’s initial seed investment round in 2016, while Lightspeed led funding in 2017. This news comes not long after MDClone’s recent announcement that has signed its first overseas agreement, a partnership with the Washington University School of Medicine to make healthcare data in St. Louis more accessible to researchers and healthcare professionals. Founded in 2016 by Israelis Boaz Gur-Lavie, Luz Erez, and Ziv Ofek, MDClone has developed a big-data solution for healthcare featuring cutting-edge technology for data representation and generation and a new approach to healthcare data access, privacy, analytics, and research.

siemensFebruary 6, 2018 | Siemens AG, the German-based multinational engineering and electronics conglomerate dealing with energy, transportation, and healthcare, has launched an innovation lab in Israel at SOSA co-working space in Tel Aviv under the name Siemens Dynamo, the company announced in a press release. “The new lab is no longer a hi-tech incubator, but a structured program designed to take innovation and accompany startups at various stages of development under one room, until the commercialization stage,” said Siemens Israel CEO Shmuel Feldel. Israeli startups in the program will be exposed to Siemens technologies. They will also have the chance to experiment in the production lines of large Israeli companies including Keter Plastic and Strauss. The lab will provide technical support, ongoing collaboration with Siemens experts in Israel and abroad, exposure to industrial solutions and challenges in the field, experience in existing manufacturing plants of well-known companies and more. Siemens is also connected with Israeli and international entrepreneurs, investors and more.  The addition of these startups in the Siemens innovation lab could lead to their future acquisition by Siemens if their technologies match Siemens products and solutions. Israeli startups that are currently active in the lab include CoreTigo, a developer of wireless communication systems for control of industrial sensors, QualityLine, a technology for quality control of the production process, and Halo Digital, a digital platform for smart industry. Siemens has already invested about $992 million in 180 startups around the world. It operates Siemens Israel as a subsidiary of Siemens AG.

 

February 5, 2018 | A delegation from American retail giant Walmart is reportedly headed to Israel in the coming weeks for talks on the possibility of opening a local branch, business daily CTech by Calcalist reported on Monday, citing an interview with Israel’s National Economic Council Chairman Avi Simhon. Walmart will also look into possible investments in Israeli cyber technologies, Simhon told CTech. Simhon said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with senior Walmart executive John Furner on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month and conveyed the message that the government would be open to having a local Walmart presence. “We made it clear we are ready to ease regulatory burdens wherever possible to make the market more accessible to them,” Simhon was quoted as saying in a Bloomberg report on Sunday, “the door to Netanyahu’s office is open.” He told CTech, “Increasing the competitiveness of Israel’s retail market will only benefit the economy and the Israeli consumer.”

frutarom-logoFebruary 4, 2018 | Israel-based flavor and fine ingredients company Frutarom today announced it has purchased 100 percent of shares in Israeli Biotech Research (IBR) for $21 million. The deal was financed through bank debt. This marks the first acquisition of the year for Frutarom, one of the world’s 10 largest companies in the field of flavors and natural specialty fine ingredients. Through the acquisition, Frutarom continues its efforts to actively pursue activities in algae-growth and active ingredients extraction for personal care and skin protection. Its goal is to establish its position as a leading global supplier of unique natural products and “develop a worldwide business in the growing and profitable fields of natural cosmetics,” Frutarom CEO Oi Yehudai said in a statement. Frutarom bought 12 companies in 2017 and has made 32 acquisitions since 2015. Founded in 1995, Israeli Biotech Research develops, manufactures and markets active ingredients for cosmetics and dietary supplement industries, with sales of $7.4 million in 2017.

amdocs logoFebruary 4, 2018 | Israeli software and services provider Amdocs announced last week it has entered into a “definitive agreement” to acquire US content monetization technology solutions firm Vubiquity for $224 million. The deal, which is still subject to “customary closing conditions,” will help “further expand our capabilities in the world of media and entertainment, which is increasingly converging,”Amdocs president and CEO Eli Gelman told Multichannel News last week. The acquisition will improve the Amdocs customer experience and entertainment offerings, thanks to Vubiquity’s content ecosystem expertise. “This acquisition uniquely positions Amdocs at the center of increased convergence across the content community and video distributors including major OTT providers,” Gelman said in a statement.  “Our joint offerings address the media and entertainment industry’s challenge in balancing the incredible growth of content and the many ways to consume content with making programming easier, faster to deliver and ultimately watch, while also delivering profits.”

 

ourcrowdFebruary 1, 2018 | OurCrowd, a global equity crowdfunding platform, announced the launch of a $50 million fund focused on sports technology. The fund, OurCrowd’s 13th, is called ADvantage and is co-founded with leAD Sports, a global sports tech accelerator backed by the Adi Dassler Family Office (ADIFO). The fund will initially focus on 15 early-stage sports tech ventures, “including companies providing next-gen fan engagement and experience; solutions for connected athletes and communities; and startups in the derivative sports space, including eSports, new and fantasy sports,” OurCrowd said in a statement.

vegetable gardenFebruary 1, 2018 | Israel and Nigeria have agreed to widen an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on their cooperation in agriculture technology and research. The new terms were finalized this week between Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Guy Feldman, and the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh. The agreement includes a plan to apply for aid from development partners, strengthen research institutes on agriculture in the country, and train youth. Feldman presented the Nigerian minister with a signed invitation to Feldman presents an official letter of invitation to the annual Agritech conference in Israel focused on agricultural technologies and innovations, taking place in May.

HandshakeFebruary 1, 2018 | Israel and China announced late last month the launch of a new incubator for technology cooperation in the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen. The incubator will be located in Xiamen’s Software Park and will provide services to Chinese companies interested in applying Israeli tech, according to a report in Chinese news agency Xinhua. Israel’s Consul-General in Guangzhou, Nadav Cohen, was quoted as saying, “With a huge market, strong capital and production capabilities, China will become a perfect partner for tech-savvy Israel.”

IBM - News Flash - IsraelJanuary 31, 2018 | IBM, the American multinational technology company, announced on Wednesday it will expand its Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE) with a new laboratory to be launched in Beersheba. The cyber research center has already operated for four years on the campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, but the company has moved to a new location in Gav Yam Negev High Tech Park to launch a new and expanded center, through a collaboration between the company’s global security division and its research division. The new lab was inaugurated by Marc van Zadelhoff, General Manager of IBM’s Global Security Division, in a ceremony attended by the Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilovich, IBM Israel CEO Daniel Malka, President of Ben-Gurion University Prof. Rivka Carmi and Head of the Excellence Center Dr. Yaron Wolfstal. While much of IBM’s research activity in Israel takes place at the Haifa research lab, IBM’s largest research center outside the US, CCOE will be the southern extension of the research center. The center conducts research that focuses on aspects of information security in cooperation with Ben-Gurion University as well as IBM clients and other organizations in the Israeli cyber industry. It also focuses on fields such as insider threats, the security of networks of connected vehicles, software research, and development to secure databases, and new technologies for the identification of malware and unusual behavior patterns on devices such as laptops and smartphones. “IBM is a key partner in advancing Beersheba as the national cyber capital,” said Danilovich at the inauguration ceremony of the lab. “Expanding the lab’s activities and the move to the high-tech park in Gav-Yam Negev is a significant development for the south.”

 

OurCrowd logoJanuary 31, 2018 | OurCrowd, a global leader in equity crowdfunding, announced on Wednesday that it has raised $650 million for 145 startups and 12 funds since the company was founded in February 2013. In 2017, the company’s investor base grew to over 25,000 registered investors from 112 countries. The Jerusalem-based venture capital platform opened new offices in London, Hong Kong, and Madrid, bringing its total to 10 offices worldwide. The company predicts it will surpass over $1 billion in assets under management, raised through equity crowdfunding from investors. Jon Medved, CEO of OurCrowd, said in a press release: “Five years ago, getting to $1B in equity crowdfunded assets was but a dream. Now we are focused on how to reinvent ourselves yet again, to innovate new ways that we can democratize and expand access to investments in startups and venture funds.” The company’s primary investor base is still predominantly in the United States. OurCrowd also announced that 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. OurCrowd is set to make these announcements and more at the 2018 OurCrowd Global Investor Summit on February 1 in Jerusalem, the “largest equity crowdfunding event in the world, and the largest investor event in the entire Middle East,” according to the company. OurCrowd is expected to welcome 10,000 attendees from over 90 countries.

 

 

January 30, 2018 | Israeli cybersecurity firms raised a record $814.5 million in 81 deals in 2017 both in venture capital funds and private equity, according to a new report on Israel’s cyber sector by Start-Up Nation Central. The sum marked a 28 percent increase from 2016 and makes up 16 percent of the overall cyber investments made worldwide last year. Three large funding rounds — $150 million for Skybox Security, $100 million for Cybereason, $70 million for SentinelOne — account for 40 percent of the total amount raised for 2017. The report, published Tuesday to coincide with the annual cyber conference Cybertech Tel Aviv, recorded 420 active cybersecurity companies in Israel in 2017, up from 379 in 2016. Seventy startups were founded over the course of the year, 20 of them in the IoT sub-sector, according to the report. In addition, 14 Israeli cyber companies made “exits” in 2017, including buy-outs, IPOs and acquisitions. The valuation of the deals for 12 of them totaled $1.4 billion, according to the report, while the remaining two were closed for undisclosed amounts. Notable exits for 2017 included the acquisition of Argus Cyber Security by Germany’s Continental for over $400 million and the acquisitions of Skycure and Fireglass by Symantec for $280 million and $250 million, respectively.

mdclone January 30, 2018 | Israel’s MDClone, a Beersheba-based company providing healthcare data in real-time, has signed a strategic partnership agreement with The Washington University School of Medicine to make data from the BJC HealthCare system of St. Louis, Missouri more accessible to researchers and healthcare professionals, according to the St. Louis Business Journal. The agreement is MDClone’s first partnership outside of Israel. The deal is aimed at finding new ways for Washington University’s Institute for Informatics to share and use the clinical data. MDClone founder Ziv Ofek was in St. Louis last summer, along with other Israeli healthcare startups to participate in the first GlobalSTL Health Innovation Summit and employees from BJC HealthCare and the Institute for Informatics were part of GlobalSTL’s visit to Israel this month. GlobalSTL is an initiative that attracts high-growth international startups to St. Louis. “We explored partnerships with leading institutions across the US and have been impressed with the visionary leadership and top talent in healthcare delivery and research at Washington University in St. Louis,” Ofek said in a statement.

tyto careJanuary 30, 2018 | Israeli telehealth startup TytoCare, a company with breakthrough technology for conducting remote medical examinations and telehealth services, announced on Monday that it has raised $25 million in its most recent funding round. The round was led by Ping An Global Voyager Fund and including both new and existing investors. Other investors include Cambia Health Solutions, Walgreens, Orbimed, Fosun Pharma and LionBird. The growth round also includes new participants like Israel’s first exclusive digital health fund Qure, established with Johns Hopkins University. TytoCare has the option the extend the round to $28 million in the next few months. The company will use the additional funding to continue furthering its expansion in the US market. After its clearance with the FDA in late 2016 and the launch of its products in early 2017, TytoCare has made a name for itself among major US health systems. They will use the funding to enhance their products and meet the demand for their products outside the US. TytoCare and the Ping An group will form a strategic partnership to implement Tyto Care into the Chinese market. Founded in 2012, Tyto Care specializes in telehealth, creating products with breakthrough technology that provide remote home examination and diagnosis solutions. Their offerings include TytoHome for patients, TytoPro for professionals, and TytoClinic for remote point-of-care testing. They also have a complete telehealth platform, analytics, built-in guidance technology, and machine learning algorithms. At the recent Digital Health IL event, TytoCare COO Ofer Tzadik showed the audience how, using an electronic Tyto stethoscope, for example, a patient may record his/her heart rate, send it to a health organization through a secure Amazon cloud service, and receive feedback from a physician.

menora mivtachimJanuary 29, 2018 | Israeli insurance company Menora Mivtachim announced Monday that it has teamed up with global startup accelerator MassChallenge to identify Israeli insurtech and fintech startups interested in collaborating with the insurance group. “The purpose of this connection is to increase exposure to innovation and to seek out technological ventures at various stages of development that may provide a solution to the technological and business challenges of the Company,” said Orly Stern Itzhaki Chief Digital Officer and Head of Innovation at Menora. Menora Mivtachim seeks tech solutions in fields that include underwriting, distribution, customer service, claims and more. Startups that are selected to the MassChallenge program will be provided with professional and business consultations from Menorah experts, with an opportunity to incorporate its developments into the insurance company, Menora Mivtachim said. Menorah is the latest insurance company to partner with MassChallenge, joining Liberty Mutual, Fidelity, MassMutual, and others. Startups can apply to MassChallenge Israel by February 4, 2018.

 

January 29, 2018 | Israel-based IVC Research Center in cooperation with Israeli law firm APM & Co released an report on Monday ranking Israel’s most active venture capital funds, with Vertex Ventures Israel in the top spot. The report analyzes first investments in Israel performed in the past five years. Vertex manages some $800 million in four funds, and came in first for 2017 with 12 first investments. In second place is aMoon Partners, a life sciences fund of $150 million managed by CheckPoint founder Marius Nach, with 11 new investments. The third spot is shared by three funds: F2 Capital, iAngels Seed Fund and Mindset Ventures with ten new investments each. In all, according to the report, Israeli VC funds increased their first investment activity with 212 new deals in 2017 amounting to 48 percent of total new investments, a record in the past five years. Foreign funds closed 233 new deals in 2017, holding 52 percent of the total, the lowest in five years.

Retail illustration. PixabayJanuary 29, 2018 | Over 250 companies and startups are currently operating in Israel’s retail technologies industry, according to a new study released jointly by Israeli early-stage tech incubator Nielsen Innovate Fund (NIF), financial services company Deloitte, Israeli venture capital firm Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), and Israeli retail innovation platform The Shelf. Most are active in logistics, robotics, shipment optimization powered by software, and sales, and include technologies such as e-commerce capabilities, smart buying, payments, digital signatures, inventory control, and new user experience featuring AR/VR and 3D. Together, they have raised over $1 billion in recent years, according to the report. Prominent deals have included marketing platform Yotpo raising $51 million last November, Trax raising $64 million in June, Retalix being bought by omni-channel solutions company NCR Corporation for $650 million, online engagement ring seller R2Net being acquired by Signet’s Jewelers for $325 million, and QR code tech developer Visualead bought by e-commerce giant Alibaba for an undisclosed amount. “Israel is quickly becoming a leading innovation base in the retail world,” says Ilan Leiferman, managing director of The Shelf. “Managers from Walmart Tesco, Carrefour, H&M, Best Buy and others have visited Israel in the past two years and are collaborating with Israeli start-ups, and we expect this trend to continue and retailers worldwide will establish innovative activities in Israel in the form of partnerships, investments or acquisitions. The way to open R&D centers, as well as strategic acquisitions.”

January 28, 2018 | Cylus, an Israeli startup focused on developing technology to protect railway and metro systems from cyber attacks, has raised close to $5 million in a seed funding round led by Vertex Ventures, in collaboration with Magma Venture Capital, the company said. Cylus was founded just last year by veterans of the IDF Intelligence Corps’ elite technological intelligence and security units, and a former CEO of Israel Railways, Boaz Zafrir, now president of Cylus, as well as Zohar Zisapel, a high-profile Israeli entrepreneur and chairman of the RAD Group, who is also invested in Israeli car sensor company Innoviz Technologies, which develops technologies for autonomous driving and was an early investor in Argus Cyber Security, acquired by German auto giant Continental in November for over $400 million. “Train attacks are no longer science fiction,”  Zisapel said in a statement. “Trains, passengers and critical railway infrastructure are undoubtedly high-quality targets for hackers. Cylus is laser-focused on protecting railway systems while enabling customers to swiftly adapt new technologies to reduce the risk to the public.” Zafrir said, “Railway companies cannot compromise on passenger safety, and one of the pillars of passenger safety is cybersecurity. Railway executives are acutely aware of the dangers and are looking for answers. The extraordinary team at Cylus has rich experience creating effective cybersecurity solutions, and I am confident that the company’s unique technology will help keep passengers safe all over the world.” Cylus CEO Amir Levintal said, “Our team of world-class cyber specialists together with rail industry experts have tailored a solution to the industry’s unique requirements. Our solution enables rail companies to detect cyber-attacks in their operational network, including their signaling systems and rolling stocks, and block attackers before they can cause any damage. The automotive industry has woken up to the critical need for cyber protection – it’s time the railway industry got on board as well.”

hysolateJanuary 25, 2018 | Israeli cybersecurity startup Hysolate, a Team8 portfolio company, has announced it has raised $8 million in a Series A funding round led by cybersecurity think tank Team8 and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, according to a statement from the company. It has also launched its first product — a platform that allows workers to maintain productivity through various work-related tasks on multiple operating systems as the product deal with security issues and eradicates potential cyber threats. Founded in June 2016 and in stealth mode until now, Hysolate is the creator of a “hybrid” endpoint architecture technology that closes the gap between security and productivity, with a platform allowing enterprises to run multiple operating systems  on a single workstation without security issues or the loss of production efficiency. Hysolate is the fourth company to be launched out of Team8, joining companies like Illusive Networks, Claroty, and more. Team8 is an Israeli cybersecurity think tank and company creation platform founded by members of Israel’s Technology and Intelligence Unit 8200.

global edtech startup awardsJanuary 25, 2018 | Israeli virtual reality startup StoryBot won first place at the Global EdTech Startup Awards (GESA) this week, a  competition showcasing the most promising educational technology startups around the world. The Israeli-founded, London-based startup wins a $50,000 prize and new opportunities for business development and mentoring, a statement about the event said. StoryBot was chosen from more than 650 startups in 70 countries who competed for the prize. Finland’s educational technology platform Claned won the AI category, while the global awards winner was Arcterus, am adaptive Japanese learning EdTech venture. The event featuring GESA took place in London and was part of a bilateral initiative between the UK Embassy in Israel and MindCET, a center for innovation and technological development in education located in Tel Aviv. Prizes were awarded by the UK Israel Tech Hub and MindCET, as part of the UK Israel EdTech Taskforce, an initiative aimed to create a joint UJ-Israel ecosystem for the global EdTech network. The event included the fifth annual meeting of the UK Israel EdTech Taskforce, where 35 senior representatives from the UK and Israel came together to discuss the future of EdTech and the promotion of bilateral cooperation in the field. They also launched the Teachers & Startups EdTech Alliance, providing certificates for teachers who implement EdTech innovation in classrooms, providing startups with opportunities to pilot their products and access to educational systems.

nexar logoJanuary 24, 2018 | Israeli startup Nexar announced on Wednesday that it closed a $30 million Series B funding round, led by Ibex Investors, with participation from Alibaba Innovation Ventures, Nationwide Insurance and previous investors Aleph, Mosaic Ventures, Slow Ventures, True Ventures, and Tusk Ventures. Co-founded by CEO Eran Shir, a former manager of Yahoo’s Creation Innovation Center in Israel, and CTO Bruno Fernandez-Ruiz, Nexar uses smartphones to create an AI-backed vehicle-to-vehicle network that works to predict and prevent accidents. Nexar leverages “millions of crowd-sourced road miles jointed with sensor-fusion, deep-learning, and map-layering technologies” to provide “real-time alerts to prevent vehicle, cyclist, and pedestrian collisions.” Nexar said in a statement that it will use the funds “to further its mission of eliminating car crashes and expand its vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) network by working with insurers, cities, and automakers.” Nexar’s app, launched in 2016, is used in 740 cities across 160 countries, according to the company. Its biggest markets are in New York City, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, and Las Vegas. Nexar also announced the appointments of Yoad Shraybom, a former Disney executive, as the new chief financial officer, and veteran technology executive Marc Gaffan as chief business officer.

montfortJanuary 24, 2018 | Israeli startup Montfort Brain Monitor won the Henry Ford Health System’s first-ever artificial intelligence challenge for Israeli companies. Montfort developed a real-time brain monitor which uses smartphone technology to record and analyze data from tests conducted on patients with neurological disorders. The Henry Ford Health System is based in Detroit, Michigan and is one of the US state’s leading healthcare provider. It issued the challenge last year as part of its Global Technology Development Program, designed to identify cutting-edge healthcare technologies from Israel and co-develop and launch them in the US healthcare market. Montfort will receive $75,000 to fund the research and clinical development of its cutting-edge technology at Henry Ford and will be able to benefit from Henry Ford mentors and experts to help navigate their development. Founded in 2014, the Herzliya-based Montfort Brain Monitor company has an app that uses smartphone sensors to record and analyze data of patients suffering from neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease. The app is available for both iOS and Android in two versions — a clinical app to be used by the patient’s care team and a home version that patients can use themselves.

TAU, Tel Aviv University, Tel AvivJanuary 23, 2018 | Tel Aviv University will partner with Yandex, the Russian multinational technology company operating Russia’s largest search engine, to launch the Yandex Machine Learning Initiative, the tech firm announced in a statement. The initiative will run through TAU’s Blavatnik School of Computer Science as part of the Bachelors of Science program in computer science. The partnership will expand machine learning education at TAU through the launch of courses that will focus on machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and robotics as well as lecture series that will bring experts from around the world to lecture on machine learning and collaborate with TAU faculty. The initiative will also support the recruitment of new faculty and the acquisition of new equipment for research. Yandex Fellowships will provide scholarships opportunities to students at Master’s, Doctoral, and Post-doctoral levels. Tel Aviv University will be the sixth branch for the Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA.) YSDA will offer a one-year career advancement program in machine learning in fall 2018. Founded in 1997, Yandex celebrates more than 20 years as a company providing Internet-related services, with 10 years running its free Master’s program in computer science and data analysis. Yandex operates the largest search engine in Russia, with about 65 percent market share in the country, according to a March 2017 report from BBC News.

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