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, which offers many helpful tools for prospecting investors. See the March 2011 edition after the jump. For previous editions, click here.
ISRAELI UNEMPLOYMENT DROPS TO 6.1%
Israel’s unemployment rate declined to its lowest level in almost three years as an expanding economy led to the creation of new jobs.
Unemployment fell to 6.1% in January, as the number of Israelis out of work dropped to 189,300. Unemployment had dropped as low as 5.9% in the second quarter of 2008 – just prior to the financial crisis. Before that, unemployment was last at 6.1% in 1995.
The drop in unemployment is consistent with many other encouraging macroeconomic figures, including the GDP, the State of the Economy Index, consumption and export data, all of which indicate robust economic activity. Israel’s index of leading economic indicators rose a preliminary 0.4% in February, led by exports of goods and services and manufacturing.
AMERICAN CHIPMAKER BROADCOM BUYS ISRAEL’S PROVIGENT FOR $350 MLN
“Provigent is a unique asset with world-class microwave backhaul technology and strong engineering talent developing innovative and highly integrated semiconductor solutions for the microwave segment.” – Rajiv Ramaswami, executive VP at Broadcom.
Broadcom Corporation, a global leader in semiconductors for wired and wireless communications, is acquiring Provigent, an Israeli company which develops system-on-a-chip products that enable wireless system vendors to deliver broadband wireless backhaul systems to network operators.
Provigent, which was founded in 2000, raised $55 million from international and Israeli venture capital firms. Its main customers include China’s Huawei Technologies, Israel’s Ceragon Networks and Sweden’s Ericsson.
Provigent is Broadcom’s eighth acquisition in Israel, and brings the value of its acquisitions here to $1 billion. Broadcom, which has a market cap of $21.7 billion, plans to add Provigent’s employees to its Israeli R&D center.
BARCLAYS CAPITAL OPENS FINANCIAL R&D CENTER IN ISRAEL
“?This is a win-win situation, first for the companies that come, and second for Israel. We are bringing the big world here.?” – Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer
Barclays Capital is opening a financial technology research and development center in Israel and plans to hire up to 200 people.
The Tel Aviv center will support Barclay’s international finance operations and expand the British bank’s equities and prime services among others.
The Israeli government launched a plan to attract financial services sector firms to Israel in 2010 and is in talks with other international financial services companies that are considering opening financial research centers in Israel.
The government will pay 40 percent of the wages of employees, up to a maximum wage of 25,000 shekels ($7,000) per month, during the first year of operation of the Barclays center. This amount will be gradually reduced to 25 percent by the fifth year of operation. Companies that open research centers in outlying areas of the country will enjoy higher subsidies.
FACEBOOK BUYS ISRAELI FEATURE PHONE MAKER SNAPTU
Facebook is acquiring Snaptu, an Israeli startup that makes Java-based feature phone apps, for an estimated $70 million.
“Snaptu is a startup run by a highly innovative collection of engineers and entrepreneurs who we already work closely with,” Facebook said in a statement.
Snaptu’s technology, which works on more than 2,500 different mobile devices, is designed to bring web service such as Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn to almost any phone through a series of applications it has designed. Its Java-based applications replicate many of the features of smartphone applications, but make them accessible to the millions of people that don’t own a smartphone.
Part of Snaptu’s 17 engineers that comprise the company will be integrated into the giant social-networking firm’s California headquarters as application developers while others will be kept in Israel in what will become its Israeli R&D center.
Snaptu, which was founded in 2007, is Facebook’s first ever Israeli acquisition and its second international purchase.
LEADING SECURITY TECHNOLOGY COMPANY MCAFEE ACQUIRES ISRAEL’S SENTRIGO
Intel-owned McAfee, one of the world’s largest security technology companies, is acquiring Sentrigo, a leading provider of database security and compliance, assessment, monitoring and intrusion prevention solutions.
McAfee entered into an OEM relationship with Sentrigo in 2010 to offer Sentrigo database security products under the McAfee brand name.
Sentrigo’s solution, called Hedgehog, uses a very small footprint, non-intrusive agent that has complete visibility into all database activity, whether it originates by outsiders or privileged insiders, and does so without impacting database performance.
Following the acquisition, the Israeli-based Sentrigo team will report to the McAfee Risk & Compliance business unit.
McAfee’s products and services aim to secure systems, networks, and mobile devices around the world, allowing users safer connections to the Internet, and to browse and shop the Web more securely.
DELL INAUGURATES ISRAELI R&D CENTER, DOUBLES WORKERS
Dell launched its Israeli R&D center based on data storage systems developer Exanet, which it acquired in 2010. The computer giant is expected to double the center’s manpower to 140 employees by the end of the year, consolidating it as a global leader.
Dell’s Israeli R&D center is the first of its kind in Israel. It will focus on developing storage technologies and cloud computing solutions, which will be embedded in Dell products worldwide.
“The Israeli R&D center is at the forefront of storage and cloud computing technology, and we expect that its R&D achievements will make a major contribution to the further strengthening of Dell’s position as a leading player in these fields,” Dell VP Darren Thomas said.
ISRAELI FILM IN THE SPOTLIGHT AT GUADALAJARA
Israel was chosen as the guest of honor at the 26th Guadalajara film festival, Latin-America’s most important annual film festival and main film market. Numerous Israeli films were featured including one of the first Mexican-Israeli films “Salsa in Tel Aviv,” which features a popular Mexican soap opera star.
The Israeli delegation of film industry experts at the event also renewed its discussion concerning the establishment of a Mexican-Israeli co-production agreement and shared ideas for new joint projects.
Israel signed a co-production agreement with Brazil last year and is in talks for the same with Argentina and Spain, which, when signed will greatly facilitate cooperation with the Israeli film industry