from the February 2012 issue

Google Backs Israel Entrepreneurs as Local Financing Drops

The Google Inc. executive with his bright yellow vest was impossible to miss in the middle of the Israeli startup owners seeking cash in a rusty boathouse at Tel Aviv's Jaffa port.

David Lawee, Google's mergers and acquisitions chief, used the early November session, called Garage Geeks, to round out his contact list. "I've met about 100 Israeli companies in two days and that's, like, super-efficient," he said between conversations at the corporate speed-dating-style event arranged by startup promoter Yossi Vardi that introduced local businesses to multinationals.

Google set up a funding program two weeks later for Israeli entrepreneurs, part of an acceleration in U.S. technology companies' backing in late 2011 that has included Apple Inc. buying a company in the country for the first time, according to business newspaper Calcalist. The foreign investments are important to Israel, where the high-tech industry accounts for 47 percent of manufactured exports, and could be a new source of innovation for giants like Google because of the Mountain View, California-based company's strength in technology startups.

Money from Google and others is making up for a decline in local financing that Avi Sasson, Israel's state research-grant provider, says could hurt industry growth.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report February 2012

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