TechNation: Celeno Secures $38 Million for Wi-Fi Chip Technology

Trax Image Recognition weighing IPO in Tel Aviv or overseas; Innovation Authority weighs loan guarantees for startups; Jerusalem-land discounts for tech companies are restored.

Bloomberg

Celeno secures $38 million for Wi-Fi chip technology

Celeno Communications, whose chips are designed to help unclog Wi-Fi networks, said on Wednesday it had raised $38 million in funding led by Red Dot Capital Partners, a fund backed by Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings. Other first-time investors included Poalim Capital Markets, the investment arm of Bank Hapoalim, and OurCrowd. Existing investors including Liberty Global, Cisco Systems, Pitango, 83North, Vintage and Miven joined in the round. Celeno said it would use the funds to invest in new technology, research and development, and marketing. Formed in 2005 by CEO Gilad Rozen, Celeno has developed smart Wi-Fi chipsets used in home gateways, routers and set top boxes. “ WI-Fi is a relatively old technology and there hasn’t been much innovation The gap between what Wi-Fi offers now and what it’s capable of is huge – and this is the company’s business opportunity,” said Rozen. (Eliran Rubin)

Trax Image Recognition weighing IPO in Tel Aviv or overseas

Trax Image Recognition, whose image-recognition technology is used by retailers to keep track of what products they have or don’t have on their shelves, is weighing an initial public offering in either Tel Aviv, London or New York.  The company, whose headquarters are in Singapore but conducts research and development in Tel Aviv, is weighing the idea just three months after it raised $40 million from private investors at a $220 million valuation. Trax has already begun meetings with Israeli investment banks about a Tel Aviv IPO. Founded in 2010 by CEO Joel Bar-El and Chief Commercial Officer Dror Feldheim, Trax uses images from a smartphone or tablet and processes them to enable stores to get real-time data on inventory and make decisions about restocking and pricing quickly. The company expects to turn it first profit in 2017. (Omri Zerachovitz)

Innovation Authority weighs loan guarantees for startups

The National Innovation Authority – formerly known as the office of the Chief Scientist – wants to encourage banks to make loans to high-growth startup companies backed by guarantees from the government. In a request for information document recently sent to Israel’s banks, the authority is checking their response to a plan under which it would provide guarantees in the hundreds of millions of shekels to banks lending to qualified startups. The authority has already allocated 50 million shekels ($13.1 million) for the plan in 2017, subject to the plan’s approval, with allocations growing in the following years. “Debt [financing] won’t replace venture capital finance but it will allow [startups] to further space out fundraising rounds, enabling them to raise the valuation significantly while expanding their operations,” said Avi Hasson, the authority’s chairman. Ifat Oron, the head of Bank Leumi’s tech arm, said she supported the idea, saying it would spread risk between the lenders and the state. (Eliran Rubin)  

Jerusalem-land discounts for tech companies are restored

The Israel Lands Authority is resuming the big discounts it once offered high-tech companies buying land in Jerusalem for research and development facilities after a four-year hiatus to encourage more tech companies to do business there. Under the new plan discounts on land will reach as much as 2,500 a square meter for qualifying companies, two-and-a-half times what they were under the previous discount program. The discount in quite significant, as the defense-electronics maker Rafael discovered when the cost of the land it was buying via the ILA ballooned to 28 million shekels ($7.3 million) from 12 million when the discounts were rescinded. “The benefits connected with land prices will ensure that leading companies form Israel and abroad locate here,” said Eyal Haimovsky, chairman of the Jerusalem Development Authority, which lobbied for restoring the discount. The city hosts some 600 tech companies. (Arik Mirovsky)