India's Tata Investing $5m in Tel Aviv University Tech Fund

Tata, part of Indian conglomerate Tata Group, will be the lead investor in a planned $20 million fund at TAU’s technology transfer company Ramot aimed at commercializing the university’s research.

India’s Tata Industries will invest $5 million in a new Tel Aviv University technology fund, saying it saw the university as its Israeli research and development center.

Tata, part of Indian conglomerate Tata Group, will be the lead investor in a planned $20 million fund at TAU’s technology transfer company Ramot aimed at commercializing the university’s research.

“For Tata, we ... see innovation and R&D as an area of focus and a source of competitive advantage going forward,” Rameshwar Jamwal, executive director at Tata Industries, told reporters yesterday.

Jamwal said it was Tata’s first major investment in Israel and that it would likely invest further. “This is our attempt to scout Israeli technology more deeply,” he said. “This allows us over a period of time to show our commitment to Israel but we are interested in doing more.”

Tata will work with TAU’s scientists to help steer them towards applying commercial uses for their research.

“It’s someone to test your ideas and say what’s a mistake,” said Shlomo Nimrodi, Ramot’s chief executive, who said that TAU invests $150 million a year in research. “Tata knows the market better.”

Among Ramot’s big successes is flash memory, which was licensed by an Israeli company before it was sold to Sandisk, which still pays millions of dollars of royalties to the university.

Nimrodi said the new fund would invest in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, cleantech, food security, the environment, engineering and software. He noted that in some cases, Tata will get the right of first opportunity in a particular research project.

David Bachar