Global Internet of Things consortium establishes investment vehicle at Tel Aviv University

Noga Kap and Eran Wagner

Noga Kap and Eran Wagner

The global consortium Israel IoT Innovations-i3 Equity Partners (i3) has established an investment vehicle at Tel Aviv University with the initial sum of $20 million to develop next-generation IoT (Internet of Things) and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) technologies.

The consortium is comprised of five global IoT industry leaders: GE Ventures, HNA EcoTech, Microsoft Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures and Tata. It will partner with Pitango Venture Capital and TAU's Business Engagement Center Company, Ramot, to launch the vehicle. Headquartered on TAU's campus, i3 will be co-managed by Noga Kap and Eran Wagner, entrepreneurs and investors well versed in early-stage investments, and chaired by Ramot CEO Shlomo Nimrodi.

"This one-of-a-kind collaboration of some of the world's largest corporations, Israel's leading academic institution and its largest venture capital fund, is a testament to the palpable confidence in the ability of Israeli entrepreneurs to come up with the next big thing that will transform our world," said Nimrodi. "The fact that we were able to bring all these leading partners to one table, providing access to their technologies, markets and clients, and to attract top venture capital talent to lead this initiative, is indicative of the highly unique differentiators we will be offering to top entrepreneurs."

Selecting the best of the best

i3 is expected to select high-potential seed and pre-seed startups with the optimal conditions for success, including financial investment of up to $1 million each and high-value in-kind contributions including technology, tools, mentoring, business development and other services. It will also provide these ventures with access to supportive multinational corporations at all stages of development: technological validation, design, proof of concept, later-stage investment and the sale of mature technologies and distribution in high-potential markets.

"The Internet of Things is the heart of a brave new world," said Wagner. "IoT brings together the various IT technologies developed over the past decades -- big data and analytics, machine learning, cyber security, sensors and communications networks -- to create the connected solutions that are already starting to change every aspect of our lives: from health through transportation and home appliances to aviation, agriculture, industrial manufacturing and much more. In Israel, we can find the unique combination of multidisciplinary skills and passion to innovate that is needed to create new big businesses that will impact large industries."

"This novel IoT vehicle will be the first stop for IoT-related startups hoping to access the main global players in the IoT space," said Kap. "With our unique and proprietary network, we will look for entrepreneurs who are adapting to changing markets in the IoT domain, and create products that matter. We will provide our portfolio companies with the resources they need to build great businesses by leveraging our partners' strategic experience and extensive IoT industry connections."

TAU, Israel's largest research university, consistently ranks among the world's top 10 universities with regard to graduates turned entrepreneurs (Pitchbook 2016-2017). Ramot invests in and supports the promising innovations of TAU scientists, making them attractive commercializable assets, through multiple value enhancement tools, including its $24 million Momentum Fund.

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Tel Aviv University (TAU) is inherently linked to the cultural, scientific and entrepreneurial mecca it represents. It is one of the world's most dynamic research centers and Israel's most distinguished learning environment. Its unique-in-Israel multidisciplinary environment is highly coveted by young researchers and scholars returning to Israel from post-docs and junior faculty positions in the US.

American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU) enthusiastically and industriously pursues the advancement of TAU in the US, raising money, awareness and influence through international alliances that are vital to the future of this already impressive institution.