Igal Ahouvi
Igal Ahouvi Photo by Moti Kimche
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Tomer Appelbaum
Avi Hasson Photo by Tomer Appelbaum

Five winners have been chosen to run new technology incubators as the results of the first round of the process were announced on Monday by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry.

Three new franchisees were chosen: International research firm Nielsen, which will run an incubator in Haifa; Elbit Systems, which will focus on electronics and information technology at its Be'er Sheva incubator; and Igal Ahouvi's holding company Partam Tel Aviv.

Another winner was the investment fund Terra Ventures, which will invest in cleantech technology in Yokneam. Terra Ventures is now raising a new $75 million fund for the venture.

The incubators will work with local start-ups and help them develop through their early stages. This marks a change in the thinking of the Chief Scientist's Office in the ministry.

The winners will operate the incubators over an eight-year period.

Ministry Chief Scientist Avi Hasson said the participation of multinational firms in the process is a sign of the importance of the technological incubators program, and the ministry expects to announce a new program to increase the support for early-stage companies in the next few weeks.

"In the past two years we have reformed the program significantly, which has made it more attractive for potential franchisees and also for entrepreneurs," said Yossi Smoller, head of the incubators program.

Peregrine Ventures will continue to run its incubator in Ariel, which concentrates on medical devices and has been operating for a decade.

Another winner was the NGT venture capital fund, which will take over an existing incubator in Nazareth.

The Technological Incubators Program provides a framework and support for nascent companies to develop their innovative technological ideas and form new business ventures to attract private investors. The program is for private investors who want to become owners of incubators and to invest in the start-up companies at an early stage, enabling a greater return on investment, explains the ministry.

The incubators are designed to support young and high-risk technology firms that have a difficult time raising venture capital on their own. The companies are accepted into the incubator for a two-year period and receive government support to the tune of NIS 1.7 million - or NIS 2.12 million if they are in an incubator located in the periphery. This represents some 85% of the company's budget, and the incubator franchisees provide the remaining 15%. Life sciences start-ups receive another NIS 500,000 and medical device start-ups an additional NIS 1 million.