Business in Brief

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Residential-property investors curtailed activity in March

The proportion of investors buying residential real estate plunged in March to 21%, its lowest in two years, the Finance Ministry said yesterday in its monthly report on the state of the economy. The weight of property investors fell in all parts of the country except Tel Aviv, where it jumped to 35% of all home purchases, reversing two months of sharp declines. Investors were also big sellers of homes, but other investors were buying them, according to the treasury. The government has been try to deter investors from buying homes on the ground that they needlessly raise prices by creating extra demand. All told the number of new-home transactions held steady in March from February after three consecutive months of declines. In comparison to March 2012, the number of transactions, however, was 9% higher. ‏(Moti Bassok‏)

Israel, Britain to double spending on joint scientific research

Israel and Britain agreed yesterday to double spending on joint scientific research by 2018, targeting areas such as nanotechnology, brain science and regenerative medicine. The two countries agreed to increase the number of scholarships they offer in regenerative medicine − cell-based technology that can create new tissues and organs − to 30. “Even though there are still elements in British academia calling for a boycott of Israel, the government of Great Britain is showing that it recognizes the importance of scientific cooperation with Israel,” said Science and Technology Minister Jacob Perry as he signed the agreement with visiting Foreign Secretary William Hague in Jerusalem. The deal was inked as part of the British-Israeli Research Academic Exchange, for which 4.5 million pounds have been raised so far. ‏(Ora Coren‏)

Hyundai recalls SUVs for faulty brake light switch

Hyundai’s Israeli importer, Colmobile, said yesterday it is recalling some 3,537 of its Tucson and Santa Fe SUVs to fix a faulty brake light switch. The recall includes Tucson models manufactured from 2008 and Santa Fes manufactured from 2009. The recall is part of a larger worldwide step the Korean automaker is making that affects about 1 million vehicles. Owners will receive a letter inviting them to come to a Hyundai garage for an inspection and, if needed, a repair that typically takes one hour, the company said. Under Israeli transportation regulations, owners who fail to make the repair within six months of the recall notice will not be able to renew the vehicle’s registration. ‏(Daniel Schmil‏)

Start-up tapped for prestigious U.S. competition

Binpress, which is developing a platform that lets independent open-source code developers register and license out their software, has become the first Israeli company chosen to participate in the accelerator program of 500 Startups. Along with Y Combinator, 500 Startups is considered one of Silicon Valley’s leading seed accelerators. The current round includes 28 companies. All but eight of them are from outside the United States. Binpress, founded in 2011 by Adam Benayoun and Eran Galperin, has helped commercialize some 1,000 open-source components, with the company collecting 30% of the proceeds generated. The most successful generate monthly revenues of between $8,000 and $12,000, according to Benayoun. ‏(Orr Hirschauge‏)

A Hyundai Credit: Uriel Cohen