TechNation: PM to Weigh Importing Foreign Tech Workers

Venture Capital fund TLV Partners completes $115-million funding round; Knesset caucus launched to help tech growth companies; Team8 raises $23 million for cybersecurity.

Reuters

PM to weigh importing foreign tech workers

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also economy minister, will examine allowing more foreigners to work in Israel’s high-tech industry.

The goal is to stem rising wages in a tight tech labor market and prevent companies from moving operations abroad. The plan, raised in a meeting this week with ministry Chief Scientist Avi Hasson, would begin by issuing work visas to hundreds of foreigners, mainly software engineers.

In a report last week, the Finance Ministry said Israeli high-tech was no longer an engine for economic growth, largely due to a shortage of skilled workers.

A forum of Israeli technological colleges said on Tuesday the answer was not to import workers, but rather to encourage more Israelis to study science, technology, engineering and math.

“Israel is famous for its enormous human capital potential, but instead of realizing that potential and investing in it, the prime minster is considering importing foreign workers,” the association said. (Moti Bassok)

Venture Capital fund TLV Partners completes $115-million funding round

Rona Segev Gal and Eitan Bek have raised $115 million for their new venture capital fund TLV Partners, less than a year after leaving their jobs at Pitango Venture Capital.

The fund plans to invest in around a dozen companies developing products in management and mobile software, the two areas Segev and Bek specialize in, mostly in first-round investments. But they will also consider putting money into Internet, financial tech and cybersecurity startups, they told TheMarker.

TLV Partners began operations in July after raising its first $450 million. It put $4 million into cybersecurity startup Scalock, together with veteran investor Shlomo Kramer. “We both believe in working closely with the developers,” Bek said.

Over 90% of the capital they raised comes from U.S. institutional investors. The pair’s departure from Pitango aroused a lot of curiosity in the VC sector, but Bek said it wasn’t the result of any dispute. “Pitango is a big and successful fund, but sometimes there are times when you want to work on your own,” he said. (Inbal Orpaz)

Knesset caucus launched to help tech growth companies

A Knesset caucus to look out for the interests of high-tech growth companies was launched on Tuesday.

Headed by MKs Manuel Trajtenberg (Zionist Union) and Yoav Kish (Likud), the group aims to help the scores of tech companies that have grown to the point that they are big employers and are encountering the same red tape that companies in older industries have had to contend with for years.

They include web-building company Wix, cybersecurity firm CyberArk and content-recommendation companies Taboola and Outbrain, which have employees in Israel and abroad.

Trajtenberg said Israel lost growth opportunities each time a startup is sold to a foreign company. “The time has come for the government to invest not just in research and development [startups] but in keeping knowledge in Israel. The companies that choose to stay in Israel have taken on a critical task and we as a state must help them,” he said. (Inbal Orpaz)

Team8 raises $23 million for cybersecurity

Team8, an Israeli firm that spins off technology it has developed into cybersecurity startups, said Tuesday it had raised $23 million from a group of strategic partners.

The round added AT&T, Accenture, Nokia, Mitsui and Temasek to Team8’s existing partners and brings its total funding to $40 million.

Team8, which was was co-founded a year ago by three veterans of the Israeli army’s 8200 technology unit, launched Illusive Networks. It plans to start two companies in 2016.

Accenture, a U.S. based professional services firm, will work with Team8 to provide clients with tailored cybersecurity solutions while Team8 and Nokia Bell Labs will collaborate on research initiatives to support telecommunications infrastructure. Mitsui will work with Team8 to develop cybersecurity products for Japan and Temasek will help extend Team8’s reach into Asia. (Reuters)