On May 19-20, Globes, DEMO and Red Herring will be holding a startup competition at the Israel Venture Association (IVA) conference. Each startup will have six minutes to present and the winner will receive automatic entry as a finalist at Demo Germany, a profile on Red Herring Magazine and the Israeli media.
This is the first time that the IVA hosts a startup competition and it seems a little haphazard to me. The winner will be selected by a panel of experts and by SMS voting of the hi-tech community in Israel. Each vote is equal. I’ve seen the SMS voting done in a conference before, and it’s not necesserily objective. Also, since Demo Germany doesn’t have a life sciences category, if the winning company is from the healthcare space, its prize will be substituted with $2,500.
The criteria for the applicants was pretty straighforward. They have to be private companies funded by an investor who is a member in the IVA with revenues less than $20 million and a precesnse in Israel. Most importantly, apart from the life science participants, the company has to have a product that can be demoed without powerpoint slides. Each participants will be required to describe their product’s competition and how their product will compete with it. And the Finalists are:
ID-U Biometrics – Focuses on homeland security, developing a biometric identification platform that can identify a person by the movement of his eyes. The eye movements of a person are similar to finger prints, and using a camera and advanced software ID-U Biometrics can be deployed on airports and government facilities as well as in consumer applications. The company doesn’t have a website yet (Hebrew), but has raised $100K from Trendlines Israel Fund.
Modu -Modu is a tiny modular phone that can be slipped into different device “jackets”— like an MP3 player, GPS, bigger cell phone, car stereo, or digital camera.Think of Modu as an expanded SIM card. About the size of an iPod Nano, it can place calls, send text messages, and hold contacts. Modu can be inserted into different device jackets, depending on the functionality needed. CEO Dov Moran was the founder of M-Systems, who pioneered the concept of Flash Drives. So far Modu has raised $50 million from founder Dov Moran, Genesis, Gemini and Sandisk. The company plans to raise an additional $70 million.
Delver – formerly known as Semingo, Delver is developing a social search engine that enables users to find content, media and people within their network. By indexing the social web (think Facebook, You tube, Flickr) and combining with the social graphs (think data portability), Delver is able to delver search results that would algorithmically be filtered for relevancy. Shortly after the company was founded in 2007, Delver has raised $2.25 million series A from Carmel Ventures. Founders are CEO Liad Agmon (who already sold Onigma to McAfee), Avital Yachin and Sagie Davidovitch.
Pet Novations -founded in 2005, PetNovations decided to focus on the pet product industry. The company’s first product, Cat Genie, is an automated-clean litter box for cats, a serious problem for cat breeders. The company estimates the market size at $3 billion. It is estimated that PetNovations raised $10 million from Israel Healthcare Ventures and Moshe Mizrahi.
Diagnostic Technologies (DTL) – Developed a test for pregnant women that identifies the qualitative determination of placental tissue protein in maternal serum, preventing premature delivery and death. The Pregnancy at Risk Detection Test kit is now in clinical trials in the US. DTL was founded in 1994 and has raised $7 million to date from several goverment funds including Teuza Fund and the Technion Institute.
Enzymotec – this biotechnology company focuses on food supplements. Started in 1998, Enzymotec sells its food supplements for baby nutrition, heart health and brain health. The company is profitable. To date, Enzymotec has raised $15 million from the Chief Scientist office, private investors, Gilam Technologies, the BIRD fund, Ofer High Tech and Millenium Materials.
Red Bend Software – develops technology that enable cell phone manufacturers to perform software updates remotely using FOTA technology. Red Bend recently raised a fourth round of $10 million, to increase its penetration to other wireless products such as Broadband PC and the Wimax market. Red Bend’s primary products are Vcurrent and vRapid Mobile. Investors include Pitango, Graylock, Carmel, Coral and Poalim Ventures. The company has raised $36 million to date.
BroadLight – a fabless semiconductor company, founded in 2000. Among other products Broadlight’s Residential Gateway (RG) connects the digital home to the service
provider’s network and facilitates the feature rich and secure IP
Techtium – this veteran company was started in 1995, with a goal of solving one of the laptop’s main challenges – the battery. Techtim has developed a chip that helps manage the lifetime of the computer’s battery and provides backup until the computer reaches an electricity source. The company’s main product, BackUPower provides back up energy to mobile devices.
Software and Internet:
WeFi – developed downloadable software that automatically detects and qualifies all WiFi access points within range
and connects users to the spot with the best Internet connection. Wefi was co-founded by two brothers Shimon and Tamir Scherzer. The company has raised $7.5 million from Lighspeed, Pitango, Gemini and Yossi Vardi.
Gizmoz -probably the only web 2.0 company on this list, Gizmoz develops 3D animated avatars, served for messaging in websites, social networks and mobile phones. Gizmoz enables users to personalize their own avatars by uploading an image and transforming it into a rich-expression character. Initial success was driven by the popularity of the product on MySpace. Led by CEO Eyal Gever, Gizmoz has raised $16.5 million to date, from private investors and several vc funds: Docomo, Benchmark, Columbia Capital.
WorkLight – We recently covered WorkLights recent founding round in depth on VC Cafe. In the past three years, the company has been working on Enterprise 2.0: secured web 2.0 tools for business purposes in the corporate environment. Genesis, Index, Pitango and Shlomo Karmer invested a total of $17 million so far.
60 years ago, no one would have conceived that Israeli companies will get so far in their level of sophistication, market share and impact on so many industries. In merely 20 years Israel has switched from being the largest exporter of Oranges, to being a leader in semiconductors, biotech and clean technologies. I’ll take the opportunity to wish Israel a happy 60th birthday and many more to come.