2017 is on pace to surpass 2016 in terms of aggregated equity crowdfunding of Israel-linked startups, according to a Monday report by IVC Research Center Ltd., a tech-focused Israel-based research company. Read more on Calcalist here.
It’s no secret that Israel has been driving the mobility sector forward for years – and this week, Startup Nation has zoomed past another milestone: Intel announced yesterday its $15 billion acquisition of Jerusalem-based Mobileye, a leader in the autonomous driving industry, creating waves across the global mobility scene and making it Israel’s biggest acquisition of all time.
But yesterday’s announcement did confirm two things the world may not have known:
- Israel is actually earning the title of world leader in autonomous driving.
- Big money is getting behind and moving the big business of autonomous driving.
This event has major implications for the entire mobility industry as Intel not only backs but leads the race. More specifically, Israel’s active role as an innovation powerhouse in the mobility space is crystal clear. Intel plans to base its entire autonomous driving operation to Israel, with Mobileye’s CTO and co-founder, Prof. Amnon Shashua, leading the division. According to the Jerusalem Post, Intel felt “…keeping the operations in Israel, at Mobileye’s Jerusalem offices, was critical to Intel when cementing the deal… the larger corporation understands Israeli culture.”
Honda, Ford, and other multinationals are seeking out their own connections to Startup Nation. Last year, Honda Silicon Valley Lab came to Israel seeking mobility tech – and found it in VocalZoom, an Israeli startup (and OurCrowd portfolio company) with which Honda announced a partnership almost a year later at CES in January.
In a global twist, at the 2017 Global Investor Summit last month, Mobileye presented alongside Zoomcar, a mobility startup based in India (and an OurCrowd portfolio company). The two discussed their partnership: Zoomcar has installed the Israeli company’s warning system to enhance security measures in their fleet. The company plans to incorporate Mobileye’s technology in more than 10,000 cars by December 2017.
Meanwhile, there are many examples that show Israel has been a leader in the mobility space for years:
- Waze was acquired by Google for $1.3B in 2014 and just announced their ride share platform;
- Argus Cyber Security recently raised $26M, from Magna International, Allianz SE, OurCrowd and others, and announced their partnership with Qualcomm Technologies;
- Mobileye, Israel’s largest IPO at $890M in 2014 and now acquired by Intel in the country’s largest exit to date;
- VocalZoom and Honda announced their partnership earlier this year;
- Engie, a company project co-founded by Waze founder Uri Levine, is a car diagnostics app and mechanic marketplace, which announced yesterday they are launching in the United Kingdom;
- Other familiar companies include Via, Moovit, Juno, and Gett, which has a $2B valuation.
The big questions now are – what are the developments coming out of the mobility space to watch? And which are the companies to keep an eye on?
Here’s an answer by Michael Granoff, the driver behind the wheel at Maniv Mobility, Israel’s first exclusively-focused mobility fund.
“We are seeing veteran Israeli entrepreneurs, with two or three big exits under the belts, realizing that their expertise in sensors, in hardware-software integration, in big data or in cyber, has profound implications for the direction that automotive and mobility are going. In Manhattan today, of five ride-hail apps available, three have Israeli heritage. The last transportation revolution came out of Detroit; the next is coming from the world’s two largest technology orchards – Silicon Valley, and Israel.”
And it’s way beyond talk at this point – here are three of the 13 startups Maniv is backing:
- Otonomo, connecting vehicles and data to a rich ecosystem of apps, offering a wide range of services to vehicle owners while allowing them to maintain control over the data they share.
- Oryx Vision, developing a sensor for autonomous vehicle applications that is neither radar nor lidar, instead using micro antennas to detect light waves, thereby offering unmatched resolution and adverse weather functionality at very low cost.
- Drive.AI, developing a deep learning based system that allows perception of the environment around a vehicle, offering significantly better performance than current generation solutions (like Mobileye) on the same applications.
As Maniv forges ahead helping “to expedite the new age of advanced transportation technology, including safety, business model innovation, and vehicle autonomy,” OurCrowd is in the passenger’s seat, backing and supporting mobility startups through Maniv and elsewhere. (For more information, click here.)
There’s clearly a lot going on, so strap in your seatbelts and adjust that dashcam. Start with some of the highlighted content below.
- For further examination of the autonomous driving industry and Intel’s strategy with Mobileye, start with this article in Fortune, Why Intel bought Mobileye.
- Self-driving startups make ripe targets, an industry list by Automotive News.
- And for a good read on why this is not ‘scale-up nation’ selling out – Aleph’s Michael Eisenberg says it well.
- Check out the Transportation Tech panel from the recent 2017 Global Investor Summit.
- Read more on how Israel is positioned for global investments with its focus on mobility.
- Learn more about OurCrowd’s mobility portfolio here.
For information on mobility startup investment opportunities, please be in touch.
Guest post by Phillip Fine, Jerusalem-based writer/editor.
There’s commercialization of military know-how and then there’s Israel’s commercialization of military know-how.
Take mPrest Systems Inc., a software maker headquartered in Petah Tikva, a city of 231,000 roughly 11 kilometres east of Tel Aviv.
That company is selling the software that Israel used in Iron Dome – its system for shooting down Hamas rockets — to electric power utilities to help them prevent blackouts.
Specifically, by polling sensors, the software allows an electric utility to monitor its equipment. The utility can then better predict when a transformer might pop, thus allowing for repairs before the electricity goes off.
One customer, the New York Power Authority, has already used the software to pinpoint transformers that it didn’t even know were problematic, says Natan Barak, mPrest’s CEO, who spoke to Media Line at the OurCrowd global investor summit in Jerusalem Feb. 16.
mPrest hopes to sell the software to other electric utilities in the U.S., as well as to power companies in Asia.
In fact, the company is customizing its product so utilities in that part of the world can better match power generation with power consumption, thereby reducing the possibility of outages and blackouts.
All told, mPrest’s software helps electric utilities tie together their many moving parts, such as sensors, closed circuit TV cameras, alarms, fences and patrol vehicles.
Indeed, the product can connect more than 300 sites, five levels of hierarchy, as well as tens of thousands of sensors.
But what about Israel’s security? Isn’t it endangered by the sale of Iron Dome software?
After all, from 2011 to 2014, Iron Dome reportedly intercepted more than 1,200 rockets that Hamas fired from Gaza. And many of those rockets would have hit populated areas. Moreover, Israel hopes to make Iron Dome even more useful, extending its range to 250 from 70 kilometres, as well as tweaking it so that it can simultaneously intercept rockets coming from two directions.
But Israelis needn’t worry that their enemies might gain the upper hand. Because mPrest’s software uses only Iron Dome’s infrastructure, and not its operational capabilities, there’s no security risk, says Mr. Barak.
In the meantime, mPrest sees its software helping power the so-called smart city: those systems that use sensors to knit together the many layers of communication in a complex urban area.
Take a tree that falls on a homeowner’s driveway or front lawn during a blizzard or an ice storm. Thanks to mPrest’s software, the homeowner need only push a button on his android, rather than phone city hall, to report the problem, Mr. Barak says.
mPrest has already sold this type of software to Bezeq, the Israeli phone company, which in turn will license the product to cities throughout Israel. mPrest also hopes to sell the software to telcos in other parts of the world.
Yet another customer for mPrest’s product will be Netafim, the Israeli maker of drip and micro-irrigation products for both the agriculture and greenhouse sectors.
Through the use of ground-based sensors, an irrigation company will be able to use the software to measure out the right amount of water at the right time and at the right place.
Mr. Barak, now 58, is perhaps the perfect person to bridge the gap between software used in defence and software used in business.
Not only does he hold a B.Sc in electrical engineering from the Technion, Israel’s version of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but he also holds an MBA from Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv. In addition, he has a master’s degree in political science from the University of Haifa.
More important, he spent 23 years in the Israeli navy, during which he helped develop command and control systems for the country’s submarines, missile boats and helicopters. He also helped develop a simulator for subs.
Founded in December 2003, mPrest now boasts 180 full-time employees, of which 160 are either engineers or specialists in mathematical algorithms.
Although private, the company is likely to go public in a few years, Mr. Barak says.
mPrest Systems is an OurCrowd portfolio company; to learn more about the investment, visit ourcrowd.com.
It’s a #throwbackthursday to end all Throwback Thursdays: Whether you were with us in person or in spirit, there is so much to absorb from the 2017 OurCrowd Global Investor Summit in Jerusalem last week. Take a trip down memory lane and/or catch what you missed.
2017 Global Investor Summit fun facts
- The Summit featured 79 speakers, 56 exhibitors, and 348 completed crowdbuilding challenges.
- Even the food was global as 2,400 Belgian waffles, 2,000 cups of Middle Eastern sahlab, and 2,000 bottles of boutique Israeli beer were consumed.
Watch OurCrowd TV
Grab a snack and catch the highlights from the day of the Summit.
Catch what you missed
It was impossible to absorb everything at the Summit – catch what you missed by watching the recorded sessions. Note: Sessions are still being uploaded over the next few days, please check back or follow us on Facebook for updates.
Browse the Facebook photo album
Find yourself and tag your friends!
What’s everyone saying?
We’ll see you next year!
What did everyone on Twitter think of #OCSummit17? The conversation isn’t over… Follow the hashtag and join in! Check it out.
With tech news and OurCrowd announcements being made throughout the last week around the Summit, make sure not to miss a single sound bite or quote. Read Summit-related news here.
Find yourself in photos and tag your friends! #OCSummit17 was an amazing success, thanks to you. Share your favorite memories in the comments. Browse the photo album on Facebook.
See it for yourself: OurCrowd TV presents a spotlight on Tech Trends, direct from #OCSummit17. Watch it here.