from the May 2016 issue


IVC: Israeli startups raise $1.09b in Q1
To that end, investment in R&D is critical; the contribution of the government has been a negative trend, consistently decreasing over the years down to 20% today. The drop has been balanced - fortunately - by increasing investments from businesses and multinational conglomerates; but currently less than 5% of the public investment in R&D is in the private sector, which puts Israel in a relatively weak place compared to other Western states.

Another problem is the recruitment and training of workers for the tech sector. The outstanding workforce, who arrived from the former Soviet republics, is getting older. Israel is trailing other Asian states - with which it competes - in the training of its tech workforce. The failing state of the Israeli education system makes the issue ever more critical.

The country must prepare an emergency plan for the internal import of employees including the haredi and Arab public instead of talking about importing foreign engineers. This could be achieved by an accelerated effort to educate these sectors and by encouraging teens to study science and technology by offering scholarships and new programs as early as primary school.

Israel requires a long term tech outlook, and the government needs to play a central role in its formulation. This vision must place STEM development in Israel as a top priority and be implemented using consistent budgets and relaxed regulation, relying on inter-ministerial cooperation.

The best thing to happen in the wake of the avalanche of data is the reminder that high-tech is one of the most important drivers of the Israeli economy. Sure, Israel should develop other growth engines, including manufacturing and tourism, instead of relying on high-risk sectors like real estate and finance. But given the current situation, in which Israel's real relative advantage in the global arena is its human capital we must make every effort to utilize it.

15 Israeli Startups to Watch in 2016
Look out for companies coming out of this growing tech community

From creating instant messaging technology and Waze to inventing drip irrigation and water desalination solutions, Israel has become a global tech leader. This year, investors have been flocking to Israel from New York, China and all over the world in order to find opportunities, as Israeli entrepreneurs continue to raise the bar and think out-of-the-box. Here are 15 exciting Israeli tech startups to watch in 2016, in the fields of finance, media, advertising, health, consumer tech, and cyber security, literally, from A to Z:

Launched in 2015, Audioburst is bringing radio into the modern age by making it searchable and shareable. Radio has remained virtually the only medium that isn't easy to consume online, meaning radio content hardly ever goes viral and effectively disappears into thin air as soon as it is broadcast. Audioburst has begun recording and automatically transcribing radio broadcasts through its sophisticated search engine, so that users can search for snippets, called "bursts," on topics that interest them - whether sports, politics, business, or highly specific search terms. The company brings value to radio stations because it allows their content to have a longer shelf life, while at the same time offering monetization and distribution opportunities.

The next generation of disease diagnosis may be based on a process known as qPCR, or quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. AzurePCR, based in the UK and founded by Israeli software engineers, is at the forefront of making this technology available to health care workers. The method involves extracting DNA from a bacteria, virus, or other pathogen. Then AzurePCR's product called AccuCall uses machine learning to analyze the DNA and develop a "fingerprint" to help identify it. The result is a much faster, cheaper and automated diagnosis than would be possible with human analysis. The time, money and error savings could be invaluable in stemming outbreaks of diseases like H1N1 or SARS and allowing low income individuals to self diagnose, treat and prevent.

CheckMarx tackles zero-day exploits at the source, in lines of code as they're being written. By monitoring every stage of its clients' software development, CheckMarx is able to scrutinize code with a fine-toothed comb and find vulnerabilities early. It's much cheaper and more effective to fix a problem when it's new rather than "patch" it after having been on the market. The financial value of unearthing software vulnerabilities is virtually incalculable for a big company, since the potential costs of hacks are so high. So business is booming for CheckMarx, with clients like Coca-Cola, SAP, and Salesforce. In June, the company closed a monster round of venture funding worth $84 million, bringing total investments to $92 million.

Dapulse is a sleekly designed project management tool that brings transparency to organizations by allowing teams to collaborate easily. The platform is intuitive, visual and flexible, to a degree that managers can fully customize the look and content of their dashboards. The customization options allow for dapulse to have many use cases, from project management and CRM to task lists and collaborative communication. Since 2012 dapulse has brought in $4 million in venture and angel funding. Thousands of companies are using dapulse, including big names like AOL, Discovery and WeWork.

After you make a purchase, you're finished with comparing prices. But in at least one product category that doesn't make sense. Airplane ticket prices fluctuate wildly and unpredictably. There's never a guarantee that your flight won't cost half as much two weeks after you book it. Fairfly lets users capture those savings. If the price of a flight drops so far that the potential savings make up for the cancellation fee, Fairfly automatically cancels the original itinerary and books the new one. The company takes a 9% commission and gives the user the rest. Based in California and founded by a young Israeli team, Fairfly raised $2 million of venture funding in June 2015 to add to an undisclosed amount of seed capital.

A cybersecurity firm, Fraudlogix detects fraudulent website traffic, which can harm advertisers and publishers tremendously. The company protects online brands against risks associated with purchasing fraudulent traffic. Fraudlogix uses proprietary algorithms and databases to detect this and other types of fraud that other methods miss. The company, with offices in Florida and Israel, keeps funding and revenue numbers close to the chest. But its name often comes up as a primary source when news breaks about fraud. It has established the Register of Top Performers, an index of sites with low fraudulent traffic.

Gett is a ride hailing app operating in 50 cies including New York, London, Tel Aviv and Moscow. The company, which prides itself on no surge pricing and 24/7 customer service, got its start in Israel and has grown significantly since. According to Gett's CEO, the company has tripled its revenues year over year since 2011 and is at a $500m revenue run rate. The company plans to expand into delivery of items and other conveniences.

Illusive Networks
Rather than keeping hackers out, Illusive Networks sets a trap for them. The company's novel approach to cybersecurity involves creating pathways through a company's servers that appear to be real, but which are actually alarm systems. This method of detection helps companies respond to threats calmly. "We have customers who don't pull the plug on the hacker, but let him keep moving and see what he's doing and better know the nature of the attacker and what he's after," says CEO Shlomo Touboul.

Online investment co raises $20m
The only named investor in this financing round is Moshe Hogeg's Singulariteam.

Online alternative investment startup has raised $20 million in a financing round from a number of global investors including Moshe Hogeg's venture capital fund Singulariteam. also announced the launch of its "hedge fund for the people," which it says will challenge the "elitist" alternative investments industry. For the time being the fund will operate in the UK with investments starting from £500 including CFD investments. first made headlines in 2014 when it paid $5 million for its domain name.

Enterprises have taken to Illusive Networks' approach and investors have followed. In October, the company closed a $22 million Series B round, bringing total funding to $27 million. Founder Ben Lang started Mapme as a side project while serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Last year the company raised $1 million from two Israeli investors to fund expansion and R&D.

Like Waze for public transportation, Moovit leverages user data as well as publically available information like schedules to give the most efficient directions from point A to point B. Like Google Maps' public transit feature, Moovit combines various modes of transportation from walking to buses to subways. But it differentiates itself with its user data, which Google doesn't have access to. In some cities, Moovit also allows users to hail a ride through the app. Investors have pumped more than $80 million into the company.

Every time an e-commerce store makes a sale it has to make a decision: in exchange for a credit card number, which may or may not be legitimate, should I deliver real goods?

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report May 2016

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