Tech in Brief: Israeli Drone Maker Gets Wide Clearance From U.S. Regulators

Sheba Medical Center the to invest in medical startup with Israeli fund Triventures ■ New Israeli venture capital fund advises old-line insurers how to adopt innovative technology

Meir Kliner, co-founder of Airobotics, poses for a photograph holding a Optimus-01 autonomous drone at the company's headquarters in Petah Tikva, Israel, on Thursday, June 2, 2016.
Bloomberg

Sheba Medical Center forming venture fund with Triventures

A unique partnership between a government institution and a private sector venture capital fund is underway. The government’s Sheba (Tel Hashomer) Medical Center is raising $45 million for a VC fund together with the Israeli fund Triventures to invest in medical startups. Called TVARC, the fund will focus on startups founded by Sheba doctors and intellectual property created at the medical center as well as startups in fields related to the new fund’s targets. “It will enable us to invest in young people with good ideas,” said Prof. Yitzhak Kreiss, Sheba’s director general. “Until now, when a young doctor came to me with a good idea, even one that could change the face of world medicine, I could give him 40,000 shekels [$10,700], a laughable sum. I didn’t have any resources beyond that.” Sheba will not invest any money in the fund, but it will be entitled to 20% of any future profits from portfolio companies. (Ronny Linder-Gantz)

FinTLV investing in insurance startups while advising insurers on innovation

FinTLV, a new Israeli venture capital fund specializing in insurance-tech, not only will be investing in startups but also will be advising old-line insurers how to adopt innovative technology. “We have a network of insurers and re-insurers from all over the world,” said Gilbert Ohana, a co-founder and general partner who hails from the army’s revered 8200 military intelligence unit. “We brainstorm them because they don’t always know what their needs are. We discuss general trends and specific needs and present solutions. And that led us to launch a fund focused on insure-tech.” The fund has raised $30 million from investors that include the accounting firm BDO, Clal Insurance and an unnamed Asian insurer. It has already invested in three startups and plans to build a portfolio of 10-15, both early-stage companies and older ones that are undertaking a change of direction, said Ohana. It will invest between $1 million and $3 million in each of them. "We are looking into about 3,500 companies worldwide, searching for ripe technologies that we can build upon for the insurance world," said Gil Arazi, co-founder and managing partner. (Amitai Ziv)

Israeli drone maker gets wide clearance from U.S. regulators

Airobotics, an Israeli company whose automated-drone technology is used in manufacturing and mining, said it received unusually wide approval from U.S. regulators to operate unmanned aerial vehicles. The certificate of waiver awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration combines three elements, including permission to fly automated drones Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) and to fly them over people. “This latest certification opens the gateways to offering American mining companies, seaports, major construction projects, and in the future smart cities, an optimal means of increasing efficiency and safety while decreasing operational costs,” said CEO and co-founder Ran Krauss. The waiver applies to Airobotics new Remote Operations Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, which has  become the company’s headquarters as well. The company recently completed a $30 million round of funding that brings the total it has raised to date to $101 million. The new funding will be used to further scale operations in the United States, Airobotics said. (TheMarker Staff)

Sirin Labs has just 6-12 months’ worth of cash, CEO tells Bloomberg

Just a week-and-a-half after a festive launching of his blockchain-based smartphone Finney, Moshe Hogeg told Bloomberg News that his Sirin Labs only has enough funds for six to 12 months of operations. The company, which is due to ship the first batch of a few thousand smartphones this month, is now considering abandoning hardware altogether and refocusing on shipping software for other phone makers to use, Hogeg was quoted as saying in an article on how the plunging value of crypto-currencies is taking a toll on crypto-financed startups. Hogeg clarified to TheMarker that Sirin was still committed to its hardware program and would only take the software route if it fails to sell enough of the new smartphones. “We are pleased to say that orders have already exceeded 100,000,” he added. Sirin raised $158 million last year in an initial coin offering to create a mobile phone that allows cusers to trade and use crypto. (Sagi Cohen)