The European Investment Fund (EIF) today announced a $20 million investment in Israel, the fund's first in Israel. This investment, the European Union's (EU) first in Israeli high tech, is part of the InnoFin program in the framework of the European Horizon 2020 R&D program, Globes reports.
EIF is joining a group of investors recruited by the ICV fund; EIF will be an anchor investor. ICV is raising its third fund, ICV III, which is likely to reach $75 million. ICV focuses on investments in startups at the early stages, and has already begun considering new investments.
ICV III will invest in seed stage and early stage companies in software, hardware, infrastructure, and innovation. The fund is focusing on increasing its efficient use of resources and on the transition to industrial innovation.
The ICV fund began its activity in 2006, among other things with the support of Horizon 2020. ICV has invested over $150 million in 25 companies to date through the first two funds that it manages. The ICV funds are backed by leading investment institutions, multinationals, and firms in Europe, the US, and Israel. Its current investment will bring ICV's total investment to over $200 million.
Israel is a partner in the framework European program through a €1.1 billion investment by the Israel Innovation Authority by means of the Israel-Europe Directorate for Research & Innovation (ISERD).
One of the important advantages of Israel's participation in this program is the entry and involvement of European financial institutions in Israel. This involvement includes investments in venture capital funds and the use of financial tools for realizing the innovation vision, such as guarantees for local banks giving Israeli companies the opportunity to develop and grow.
EIF is part of the European Investment Bank (EIB) group. It supports small and medium-sized businesses in Europe through assistance in financing. EIF develops venture capital and growth funds, guarantees, and other tools focused on these market segments.
At the event announcing this cooperation, Israel Ambassador to the EU Emanuele Giaufret said, "The new areas of investment are in addition to the successful activity carried out to date by EU institutions in infrastructure development in Israel, technology, and innovation. For more than 20 years, Israel has been a partner in the EU research and innovation program, which is creating a suitable environment for this important investment and other investments. These investments, especially in the existing areas, not only encourage the local economy, but also prepare Israel for handling its future environmental challenges."
Israel Innovation Authority CEO Aharon Aharon said, "As the governmental agency responsible for Israel's innovation policy and our involvement in the Horizon 2020 European framework program through ISERD, we are proud that EIF has set a precedent by investing in Israel. The deep synergy between Israel and Europe, combined with all of the tools offered under the Horizon 2020 program, constitute an opportunity for excelling investments and for supporting innovation and cooperation initiatives. Such investments make an important growth channel and means of penetrating the European market available to Israeli startups."
ICV cofounder Meir Ukeles said, "We are proud that the EIF is making its first investment ever in Israel. Since 2006, our fund has been part of partnerships with entrepreneurs seeking to reinvent various sectors and markets on a global scale. With a record of investment in over 300 funds, we are more than glad to accept EIF as investors."
EIF CEO Pierre Luigi Gilibert said, "We are glad to launch our first venture capital fund in Israel with the support of the InnoFin program. Israel offers excellent business opportunities in companies in the early stages, while ICV III is an example of an attractive investment, due to its existing strong model, its experience, and its efficiency. EIF's participation in ICV III constitutes n unusual opportunity for creating innovation through a fund with an established presence in Israel and unique access to a flow of high-quality deals in the long term."
European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas said, "This deal will open new ways of financing research, innovation, and technological support in Israel. It constitute another example of how innovation is being opened to the world under Horizon 2020 and is creating an enormous profit for both the EU and its partners."