Business in Brief: Israel Gets Its First Student-run Venture Capital Fund

Brenmiller to build solar-power field using innovative storage technology; Nvidia opens Israel research and development center.

Young employees working at a high-tech company.

Israel getting its first student-run venture capital fund

Israel is getting its first-ever student-managed venture capital fund. The $1 million FreshFund will be run by Jerusalem students who are supervised by Zaki Djemal and Hidai Goldsmith, partners of the fund, and by the nonprofit startup accumulator Siftech.  

The fund will invest between $20,000 and $50,000 each in startup formed by their fellow students on recent graduates. Models after U.S. funds like the Dorm Room Fund, the idea is to give student training in who to manage real money and whet their appetite for the venture capital/startup industry.

"Students are in a unique position to identify social trends that are often overlooked by other investors," Djemal in an interview with TheMarker. "They are connected to innovation that's happening in the field and are experimenting with new technology before everyone else. They also have a lot of ambition." 

About 1200 students have applied for 15 places as members of FreshFund's investment committee The fund hopes to invest in 10 companies it first year. (Ruti Levy)

Brenmiller to build solar-power field using innovative storage technology

Brenmiller Energy said on Monday it would build a 300 million shekel ($77.3 million) solar-power field using an energy-storage technology that generates electricity for about 20 hours a day.

The 10-megawatt field, to be built on about 110 acres in the desert town of Dimona in southern Israel, will combine existing solar thermal technology with an underground system that stores heat for use at night. Brenmiller said it hoped to complete the field in early 2017 and sell electricity through the grid.

The company already has a working proof-of-concept for the storage system.

A spokesman said Brenmiller would fund the 10-megawatt project itself, in part to help promote the system to clients worldwide. CEO and cofounder Avi Brenmiller was a cofounder and CEO of Solel Solar, a producer of concentrated solar-power fields that was bought by Siemens in 2009 for $418 million. (Reuters)

Nvidia opens Israel research and development center

Nvidia, the U.S. maker of graphics processor technologies for computing, consumer electronics, and mobile devices, dedicated a new Israeli research and development center at the end of last week.

The center now employs 12 people at temporary offices in Tel Aviv, but TheMarker has learned it plans to recruit scores more employees, mainly in artificial intelligence with an emphasis on deep learning. Much of the work being done at the new center will be dedicated to autonomous vehicles.

"We’re thrilled to come to two of the world’s great technology cities. We look forward to building out world-class design centers to accelerate advancements in computing at the intersection of AI, visual computing and high performance computing," the company said.  

Avi Shapira, who headed AMD's Israel R&D center after selling his startup Remedy Graphic to the U.S. company, is managing the new R&D center for Nvidia. (Eliran Rubin)