As every month, VC Cafe is re-posting the “Invest in Israel” Newsletter, published by the investment promotion center of Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. The investment promotion center works closely with potential and current investors before, during and after investment, and serves as a resource for investment related information about Israel. For previous editions of the newsletter, click here.
ISRAEL RANKED 17TH MOST COMPETITIVE ECONOMY BY IMD
The Swiss Institute for Management Development (IMD) ranked Israel 17th out of 58 of the world’s most economically developed nations in its 2010 World Competitiveness Yearbook, raising it by seven spots from its 2009 ranking.
Israel was also rated first in several of the report’s sub-categories. The Israeli economy was considered the most durable in the face of crises, and was ranked No. 1 for its expenditure in research and development as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). Israel also came in first for the innovative capacity of firms to generate new products, processes and services.
In the business-efficiency category, Israel scored very high in availability of skilled labor, finance skills, entrepreneurship of managers and venture capital.
The Bank of Israel was also praised, ranking highest among central banks for its efficient functioning, after receiving 8th place in 2009. The Bank of Israel played an important role guarding the Israeli economy from the effects of the global financial crisis.
The IMD, which is a leading business school located in Lausanne, Switzerland, examines the level of developed nations’ competitiveness based on some 330 different parameters.
ISRAEL TAKES EUREKA CHAIR – WORLD’S LARGEST R&D INITIATIVE
Israel became the first non-European state to head the EUREKA Network, the leading industrial R&D initiative in Europe and the largest of its kind in the world with investments of 1.5 billion euros every year. Israel’s Office of the Chief Scientist head Eli Opper will serve as the organization’s chairman.
In recent years, Israel became one of the five most active members in Eureka boasting the same number of projects as much bigger [EU] countries. Out of nearly 300 new projects initiated by Eureka in 2008, 40 involved Israeli companies.
As the head of the pan-European, inter-governmental initiative, Israel has planned five conferences, starting in Tel Aviv in October and culminating in Jerusalem in June 2011.
Eureka was set up in 1985 as a legal framework allowing European companies to collaborate and receive government funding.
INTEL CORP BUYS ISRAEL’S COMSYS
Intel Corporation acquired Israeli WiMAX fables semiconductor vendor Comsys Communication and Signal Processing Ltd for $30 million.
Through its purchase of the Herzliya-based company, Intel will gain a stronger market presence in the market for 2G and 3G protocols and files
Comsys was founded in 1994 when it initially produced a PC modem and then gradually changed its focus to develop processors for 3G mobile devices, which it sold to its strategic partner, Texas Instruments Inc.
Comsys’ 80 employees will join Intel Israel’s R&D centers for wireless communications in Haifa and Petah Tikva.
ISRAEL’S MA INDUSTRIES BUYS ALBAUGH FOR $1 BLN
Israel’s Makhteshim Agan, the world’s biggest generic agrochemical maker, is acquiring Iowa-based Albaugh, a leading US producer of glyphosate and other generic herbicides, two of Makhteshim’s core businesses.
Albaugh, which was founded in 1979, has six plants in the US, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, and a joint venture in China, and its South American sales in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile complement Makhteshim’s business in Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador.
The Albaugh acquisition gives Makhteshim a significant presence in North America and South America, low cost production sites, efficient supply chain, and access to large growers in the US Midwest.
Makhteshim Agan is a subsidiary of Koor Industries, which is part of the IDB Holding group. It had sales of $2.2 billion in 2009.
ECI TELECOM WINS $800 MLN CONTRACT WITH BRITISH TELECOM
Israel’s ECI Telecom has won its largest ever contract, an $800 million deal with British Telecom’s Openreach to help establish a large-scale super-fast broadband network in Britain.
ECI will deploy next generation access for up to 18 million households and businesses throughout Britain in the next 3-5 years. Deployment is scheduled to begin in July-August. Openreach, which was created in 2006 to give communications providers equal access to Britain’s local access network, plans to invest a further 1 billion pounds ($1.51 billion), or 2.5 billion in total, to extend deployment of fibre-to-the-premise and fibre-to-the-cabinet to around two thirds of Britain by 2015.
ECI supplies communications platforms for carrier and service provider networks. It was acquired by a group of funds led by the Swarth Group for $1.24 billion in 2007 and de-listed from Nasdaq.
ISRAEL’S KAMADA GETS FDA APPROVAL FOR INNOVATIVE DRUG
Kamada won U.S. approval for its treatment of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), a lung-damaging condition that is mainly found in Europe and North America. The Food and Drug Administration approved a liquid version of Kamada’s intravenous treatment Glassia, making it the first Israeli company to get U.S. clearance for a drug produced by a biological process rather than a chemical one. Though there are other drugs on the market that treat AATD, Glassia is the only liquid product.
The drug is currently undergoing advanced clinical trials in Europe for an inhaled version.
WEIZMANN RANKED 2ND BEST ACADEMIC WORKPLACE IN WORLD
The Scientist magazine ranked the Weizmann Institute of Science as the second best scientific institution outside the US for which to work in its “Top 10 International Academic Institutions for 2010”, for the second consecutive year. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem was ranked fifth. Altogether, the Weizmann Institute has been ranked second three times, and in first place twice.
The Weizmann Institute, which is home to 2,600 scientists, students, technicians, and supporting staff, has 100 full-time life science researchers, a government budget of $4 million, and 11,873 published papers in the life sciences, with an average of 15.29 citations per paper.
EUROPEAN DRUG GIANT MERCK SERONO TO EXPAND ISRAELI OPERATIONS
“The Israeli science has a special zest to it, one which we are thrilled to encounter time and time again. Together with Merck Serono, this special zest can create the next blockbuster drug” – Inter-Lab Chief Executive Regine Shevach
Merck Serono SA, Europe’s largest bio-pharmaceutical company, has called on Israeli entrepreneurs and start-ups to collaborate with it through its local R&D center, Inter Lab Ltd.
Merck Serono noted they are looking for unique collaborations across a range of fields, including autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, oncology, and endocrinology to expand its drug pipeline. In addition, the company will focus on the development of commercial drugs from molecules in early stages of development.
ISRAELI UNEMPLOYMENT DROPS 0.7% TO LOWEST NUMBER SINCE JANUARY 2009
Israel’s labor market continues to recover from the recession. The Israel National Employment Service reported that the number of unemployed fell 0.7% to 193,800 persons in April 2010 from 195,100 persons in March.
Israeli unemployment is expected to drop to 7% in 2010, from 7.7 percent in 2009. The Bank of Israel expects unemployment to drop to 6.7 percent in 2011.
The number of job seekers with college degrees fell 2.1% while the number of job seekers without higher degrees fell 2.8%.
8 ISRAELI START-UPS NAMED RED HERRING 100 WINNERS
Red Herring, a global media company, included eight Israeli start-ups among its European Top 100 for 2010 in recognition of their innovations and technologies across their respective industries. The eight Israeli companies are attracTV, BriefCam Ltd., MS Tech Ltd., SolarEdge Technologies Ltd., SundaySky, TaKaDu, Trusteer, and Waze.
SolarEdge boosts PV system output to enable cost efficient production of up to 25% more energy from any PV installation. TaKaDu uses sparse data from existing sensors and folds that in with weather data, acoustic data, and GIS data to create a smart water grid, allowing the water utility to improve its ability to plan and forecast, saving money and resources in the process.
Red Herring’s Top 100 Europe list has become a mark of distinction for identifying promising new companies and entrepreneurs. Companies are evaluated on quantitative and qualitative criteria, such as financial performance, technology innovation, quality of management, execution of strategy, and integration into their respective industries.