TechNation: Chief Scientist Runs Out of R&D Grant Money for 2016

Freightos buys Spanish rival | Beyond Verbal secures $3 million | WeWork plans major expansion in Israel

A WeWork co-working space in Tel Aviv. The picture shows a spacious, open area with a number of seating options, with wood floors, Oriental and sleek wood and upholstered furniture.
Courtesy of WeWork

Chief scientist runs out of R&D grant money for 2016

With nearly four months left in the year, the Economy Ministry’s Office of the Chief Scientist said yesterday it had run out of money for 2016 and would stop issuing research and development grants. The OCS, whose annual R&D budget is about 1.4 billion shekels ($372 million), typically runs out of money in July or August, but in the past the treasury has allocated additional funds to bridge the gap. This year, 100 million shekels was cut from the OCS budget and a midyear supplement of as much as 200 million shekels was not forthcoming. “We are in advanced negotiations with the treasury and hope we succeed in agreeing on a budget sufficient for the Innovation Authority to appropriately support all the huge demand from industry,” Chief Scientist Avi Hasson said.said in August. As a result, about 60 companies, including kibbutz-based firms and others in the high-tech, plastics and food industries, will not receive tens of millions of shekels in anticipated funding. (Ora Coren)

Freightos buys Spanish rival to expand freight rate platform

Freightos, an online freight marketplace founded by Israeli serial entrepreneur Zvi Schreiber, has acquired Spain’s WebCargoNet to expand its database of air, sea and land freight rates. The amount Freightos paid was not disclosed, but sources close to the deal said it was in the seven-figure euro range, in cash and stock. Based in Hong Kong, Freightos was founded in 2011 and has raised $23.3 million to date from Israeli investors OurCrowd and Israel Cleantech Ventures. It employs 110 people, 40 in Israel. Under the deal, WebCargoNet’s air cargo rate management service will remain as an independent brand. The Freightos platform is used to search for shipping options by factors such as price, time, route, fees or type of transportation. “Our vision is to create a platform like Expedia or Kayak — an internet market for import and export of merchandise,” said Schrieber. (Eliran Rubin)

Beyond Verbal secures $3 million for emotion-detection software

Beyond Verbal, whose software detects emotions, well-being and health conditions through the human voice, has raised $3 million in a funding round led by China’s KuangChi Science Limited. Founded in 2012, the company’s emotions analytics technology is used for things like improving the effectiveness of call center effectiveness and tracking health conditions. The technology is based on more than two decades of research by Beyond Verbal’s chief science officer, Dr. Yoram Levanon. Beyond Verbal has collected more than 2.5 million emotion-tagged voices in more than 40 languages, and secured their technology with multiple granted patents. The investment comes after Kuang-Chi launched in May a $300-million Global Community of Innovation fund to invest in what it calls “future life” technologies. The company says it has studies and collaborations under way with the Mayo Clinic, the University of Chicago, Scripps and Hadassah Medical Center, among others. (TheMarker)

WeWork slates major expansion in Israel for its office centers

WeWork, whose centers are favored by tech startups because they offer flexible and short-term co-working space, is undertaking a major expansion in Israel that will double the space it makes available for tenants. The company said this week that it was opening two centers on Ibn Gvirol and Hazerem streets in Tel Aviv and is expanding its existing center in Herzilya Pituah. It is also planning a new center in Jerusalem next year at the old Hamashbir Lezarchan department store building in the city’s center. The Ibn Gvirol site will have 644 desks in a 3,200-square-meter facility and Hazerem Street will have 836 desks and 5,800 square meters. In Herzilya Pituah, floor space will more than double to 5,700 square meters, it said. Based in New York and co-founded by Israeli Adam Neumann, WeWork opened its first center in December 2014. (Ruti Levy)