Israel’s first university investment arm leverages academic power to enrich startup ecosystem.
Tel Aviv University’s own investment arm, TAU Ventures, recently announced that it has secured $50 million for a new fund to invest in startups, with the potential to top-up to $70 million. According to Prof. Ariel Porat, President of Tel Aviv University, “TAU Ventures provide entrepreneurs with a platform for significant opportunities in innovation and extends the power of academia beyond the campus boundaries.”
TAU is consistently ranked as a top university producing entrepreneurs, its alumni ranked 5th globally and 8th in the world for entrepreneurship. The fund intends to invest in 15 to 25 companies founded by Israeli entrepreneurs, and – as part of TAU Ventures‘ mandate – all the companies will be run by at least one TAU alumnus/a or TAU student.
Combining Forces between Academia and Industry
Housed in the Miles S. Nadal Home for Technological Innovation and Entrepreneurship, TAU Ventures invest much more than money in their portfolio companies, creating value for entrepreneurs by offering unique TAU resources, including:
- A Global Network – High-quality and sizeable network across the globe
- Expert Knowledge – Connecting entrepreneurs with relevant sources of knowledge across campus
- Man Power – In shape of TAU students who are interested in either joining the startups as interns (for which they earn credits for their studies) or as full time workers
- Free Office Space – In close proximity to the TAU Venture team, who are comfortably seated in a 1000m² offices near the campus.
“It enables students to integrate practical experience with leading startups during their studies, and at the same time, it enables entrepreneurs to enjoy the diverse qualities of the campus,” says Prof. Porat.
“I’m happy about the given trust of the investors in TAU Ventures and I’m sure that combining forces between academia and industry will provide in the near future significant technological achievements that will benefit the entrepreneurs, the university and society at large.”
TAU Takes Leading Role in Early Stage Investments
TAU Ventures was established in 2018 by Managing Partner, Nimrod Cohen, together with Tel Aviv University, with the interest in taking a leading role in early stage investments across a wide range of sectors (fintech, foodtech, drones, etc.) in Israel. This is part of a successful trend in the United States of leading universities including MIT, Berkeley & Stanford establishing venture investment arms.
„Many investors prefer to operate in A or post-seed stages, as they would rather see a product that has already reached the market. We are covering the critical early stage, enabling new companies to emerge,“ says Cohen.
Israel’s first university investment arm has proven to be a huge success: TAU Ventures’ first fund of $20 million began in 2018 and made 18 investments including: SWIMM, Xtend, Gaviti, MyAir, Castor, Medorion and more. The first fund IRR is in the top 10% compared to all US funds from the same size and vintage.
All investors from the previous fund have now reinvested in the current fund. Both funds were led by Chartered Group, which brings together leading entities from Japan, plus new investors, including Family Offices in the US, Canada and Europe.
Featured image: TAU Ventures Team, clockwise: Inbal Perlman, Jennifer Schwartz, Ella Iwler and Nimrod Cohen