Bayer Setting Up Aggrotech Fund With Israel’s Trendlines

Only 10% of Haredi women employed in high-tech | InSightech inadvertently reveals name of new tech partner | Meucci raises $6 million for group calling

Strategy chief Werner Baumann of Bayer AG watches the media at the annual press conference in Leverkusen, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.
Martin Meissner, AP

Bayer setting up aggrotech fund with Israel’s Trendlines

Israel’s Trendlines Group and the CropScience division of Bayer AG announced Monday that they had signed an agreement to form a $10-million venture capital fund to invest in early-stage agrotechnology startups and other companies of interest to the German pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals giant. The capital for the Bayer Trendlines Agtech Innovation Fund will come from Bayer and be allocated over the next five years; Trendlines will manage the portfolio. “Extreme climatic conditions, weed resistance and pest pressure are just some of the challenges facing agriculture today .Through the Ag Innovation Fund, Trendlines and Bayer aim to identify cutting-edge solutions to these challenges,” the two partners said in a statement. Based in the Israeli town of Migav and traded on the Singapore Exchange, Trendlines invests in medical and agricultural technologies. (Yoram Gabison)

Only 10% of Haredi women employed in high-tech

Despite wide media courage of ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, women working in high-tech, a Finance Ministry report released this week found that only a small minority are employed in the industry – and probably in jobs outside the sector’s core engineering professions. “In contrast to the impression that’s been created by various reports, as of now the rate of Haredi women employed in high-tech is very limited,” treasury chief economist Yoel Naveh said in the report, which estimated that 10% of ultra-Orthodox women were working in either information and communications or scientific and technical services, the two main categories for high-tech employment. That is a slightly lower rate than for secular women, who are also underrepresented in the industry. More than half of Haredi women are working in education, compared with 18% for secular women. Overall, the participation rate in the labor market among for Haredi women has risen to 74%, approaching the 80% figure for secular women, the report said. (Tali Heruti-Sover)

InSightech inadvertently reveals name of new tech partner

InSightec, a maker of ultrasound systems, said Sunday that it had signed a non-binding agreement with an international company to adapt InSightech’s MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound Systems (MRgFUS) systems so they will be compatible with the company’s MRI scanners. Insightec initially didn’t reveal the name of the partner, but put out a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in a document entitled Siemens_160416 – inadvertently identifying the German electronics giant as such. Until now InSightec’s technology has only been compatible with equipment made by General Electric, the U.S. company that had been an investor over the two decades since the Israeli company was founded. However. In December GE sold its 13% in Insightec for $25 million to the York private equity fund and other buyers for $25 million, with an option to sell its remaining shares. Despite regulatory approvals from the U.S. and Europe, the company hasn’t been a commercial success and has run up losses to $272 million, $24 million of that last year alone. (Yoram Gabison)

Meucci raises $6 million for group calling

Meucci, which has launched an app that allows group calls similar to Whatsapp but without the need for recipients to subscribe, said last week it had raised $6 million. The first round of fund-raising, which comes as the Israeli startup launched its product, was led by the Israeli venture fund Singularteam, joined by private investor Alon Carmel and China’s Dragon Ventures. The app is available in Android and IOS versions, and only the party initiating the call has to have it installed on his or her phone; the recipient without the app gets an SMS message alerting him or her to the call and a link by means of which to connect. Meucci, named for the man who some people credit with inventing the telephone instead of the more famous Alexander Graham Bell, was formed in 2011 by CEO Rubi Kizner together with Arnon Ayal and Yuval Cnaan, all of whom were behind another startup called Centel to offer low-cost international calls. Meucci began developing it current product only in 2013 and today employs 12 people, all in Tel Aviv. (Eliran Rubin)