6 June 2020 - 15 Sivan 5780 - ט"ו סיון ה' אלפים תש"פ
Ben-Gurion University to establish entrepreneurship centre E-mail

The Council for Higher Education in Israel has awarded an NIS 6 million grant to BenGurion University (BGU) of the Negev for the establishment of Yazamut 360°, an interdisciplinary centre for entrepreneurship that will host activities in a new facility.

The centre will be chaired by Professor Carmel Sofer of the Departments of Cognition and Brain Sciences and Industrial Engineering Management, who was a hi-tech investor for 25 years, and led by Dana Gavish-Fridman, the University’s Head of Entrepreneurship.

It is at the heart of BGU’s long-term plan to enhance the university’s innovation ecosystem. It is also surrounded by a wealth of applied-oriented academic departments and will act as a facilitator of various new initiatives such as Cactus Capital, the university’s student-run venture capital investment fund, and Forum 80-20, a voluntary organisation led by student entrepreneurs from BGU’s Industrial and Management Engineering Faculty and dedicated to expanding students’ connection to the business world and to providing first-hand business experience to complement their academic studies.

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Fourth Israel-Chinese protocol signed E-mail

An Israeli-Chinese financial protocol agreement seeking to boost Israeli exports to China and worth US$500 million was signed in December by Accountant-General Rony Hizkiyahu and Chinese assistant Finance Minister Xu Hongcai.

The protocol, the fourth of its kind between the two countries, provides an insurance platform for expediting Israeli exports through the provision of government export guarantees.

The new protocol comes as existing guarantees worth US$1.3 billion are close to being fully utilised. Under the framework of the latest agreement, Israeli banks will finance government-backed long-term credit agreements with Chinese importers purchasing Israeli goods.

Since the first bilateral protocol was signed in 1995, more than 340 transactions worth a total of US$2.1 billion have been completed under the programme in the fields of health, agriculture, renewable energy, education and more.

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Samsung Ventures looking to acquire Corephotonics E-mail

Korean tech-giant Samsung is in advanced negotiations to acquire Israeli company Corephotonics for US$150US$160 million, according to Globes.

Corephotonics has developed a camera with dual-lens technology for smartphones, which is designed to improve the quality of smartphone images. According to Israel Venture Capital, the company, which was founded in 2012, has raised a total of US$50 million.

Corephotonics was founded by CEO David Mendlovic, a professor of electrical engineering at Tel Aviv University, and former Ministry of Science and Technology chief scientist and chief development officer Dr Gal Shabtay. The main investors in Corephotonics are Samsung Ventures, one of Samsung’s investment arms in Israel; Foxconn, a large manufacturer of electronic components; Taiwanese company MediaTek, the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile communications chips; Israeli fund Magma Venture Partners; the Amiti Ventures fund; Horizon Ventures, controlled by Chinese billionaire Li Ka Shing and Solina Chau; crowdfunding platform OurCrowd; flash memory company SanDisk, and Chinese telephony provider CK Telecom.

Corephotonics works with all of the large smartphone companies. Shabtay once told The-Marker that the company had realised that “There are several large gaps, above all an optical zoomlens.Realzoomdoesnot exist in a smartphone camera, which only has a digital zoom that is actually a manipulation of the image.”

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Blockchain startup Orbs receives South Korean investment E-mail

Israeli blockchain startup Orbs announced in December that it had received an investment from Kakao Investment, the venture arm of South Korean internet conglomerate Kakao Corp.

Orbs did not disclose the size of the investment, but sources indicate it was a sevenfigure sum.

Kakao, South Korea’s largest messaging app operator, said last year that it would establish a unit focusing on blockchain technology.

Orbs said the investment will help it further its development and growth and will build on its existing partnership with Kakao blockchain subsidiary Ground X. The two companies have agreed to partner on blockchain applications and research and development projects.

Founded in 2017, Orbs is building a public blockchain acting as middleware solution for large-scale consumer decentralised applications (DApps). The technology is designed to support interoperability with multiple base-layer blockchains.

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Israeli-Japanese Magenta tech fund seeks to raise US$100 million focused on early startups E-mail

Israeli VC firm Magenta Venture Partners announced on 14 January a new venture capital fund that aims to raise US$100 million. The new fund had its initial closing in October last year and is planning a final closing sometime this year.

Magenta Venture Partners is an equal partnership between Mitsui & Co. Ltd., one of the largest trading and investment companies in Japan, and Ori Israely and Ran Levitzky, two seasoned Israeli professionals from the country’s venture capital industry

The fund specialises in early-stage investments in Israeli and Israeli-related technology startups in multiple domains, including Automotive, Mobility, AI, Smart Cities, Industry 4.0, Enterprise Software and Fintech.

The four partners of the fund are Ori Israely, Managing General Partner of Magenta and formerly of Motorola Solutions Venture Capital and Giza Venture Capital; Hiroshi Takeuchi of Mitsui, who has relocated to Israel after 15 years of venture investment experience in Japan and the US; Ran Levitzky, formerly from Viola Ventures, where he co-led investments in early stage startups, and who earlier held roles at Amdocs, Microsoft and Verint Systems, and Atsushi Mizuno from Mitsui’s investment arm, who has over 10 years’ experience investing into Israeli companies and who has been living in Israel for the past four years.

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