Tel Aviv Issues Call for High-tech Parking Ideas

TechNation | Moebius in licensing pact with India’s Sun for osteoarthritis treatment; Startup behind Houseparty app reportedly raises $50 million; Microsoft chooses Herzilya site for major Israel R&D campus.

Daniel Bar On

Moebius in licensing pact with India’s Sun for osteoarthritis treatment 

India’s Sun Pharmaceuticals said on Monday it agreed to acquire worldwide licensing rights for the Israeli startup Moebius Medical’s MM-II, a biolubricant to treat knee osteoarthritis. Under the agreement, the giant Indian drug maker will fund development of MM-II and commercialize it after it receives regulatory approvals. “Our agreement with Moebius Medical is a part of our effort to build a branded product pipeline and enrich our global portfolio for pain products,” said Kirti Ganorkar, Sun’s global head of business development. Moebius has completed a first-in-man clinical study it says shows that it may be more effective and safer than current treatments. Moebius will conduct pre-clinical studies and assume responsibility for product development and manufacturing through Phase II clinical studies. Sun will then assume responsibility for further clinical studies, regulatory filings and commercialization at a total cost that could reach $20 million. Moebius will receive an upfront payment and milestone payments that the two sides didn’t detail. (Yoram Gabison)

Startup behind Houseparty app reportedly raises $50 million

Israel’s Life on Air has quietly completed a giant fundraising of about $50 million from a group of venture capital funds as the startup’s Houseparty has moved to the top of the mobile app charts, The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend. Life on Air didn’t respond to requests for confirmation by TheMarker, but according to the Journal, the round was led by the Sequoia Capital, with existing venture capital fund investors Aleph, Comcast ventures and Greylock Partners joining in. Houseparty evolved out of the now-defunct Meerkat platform as a video app and quickly became a hit with young people since it was launched earlier this year. The Journal said investors battled for the right to invest in the startup in the hope that the video chat app could become a phenomenon like Snapchat, which was ranked as the top social networking iPhone app in May. It's now No. 2, behind Facebook’s Messenger, according to App Annie. (Eliran Rubin)

Tel Aviv issues call for high-tech parking ideas

Tel Aviv has asked Israeli high-tech companies to find a solution to the city’s severe parking problems. In a request for information issued by the city last week, it asked for proposals about how to develop a system of sensors to identify available parking spaces on the street and in parking lots and direct drivers to them via a mobile app. Officials had initially wanted to avoid using sensors which are costly and vulnerable to vandalism, but a previous RFI two years ago failed to yield a solution. Some 330,000 cars fight for approximately 80,000 places in the city every day, which makes the city a parking nightmare for residents and visitors alike. One of the technology challenges facing tech companies is how to ensure that a place their system finds for a driver isn’t taken before he or she gets there, so that one of the conditions the RFI sets is smart technology that can predict driver behavior. (Oren Dori) 

Microsoft chooses Herzilya site for major Israel R&D campus

Microsoft will consolidate most or all of its Israeli research and development operations in a new 1 billion-shekel ($260 million) campus that sources said this week will be developed by a joint venture between the property companies  Canada-Israel, Tidhar and Acro Real Estate. The three reportedly won a tender to build the campus, which includes 40,000 square meters of floor space in Herzilya on a 10-dunam (2.5-acre) site. The U.S. technology giant, which hasn’t yet confirmed the agreement apparently because its awaiting approval from company headquarters, issued a call for proposals to house its Israeli R&D team and drew several competing offers, including one by Amot and Gav Yam that offered a site on Tel Aviv’s Tozteret Haaretz Street. The cite for the new Microsoft facility has no infrastructure yet, but the city of Herzliya has vowed to develop it quickly so that the campus will be ready by the 2020 deadline Microsoft has set to move its staff there. (Arik Mirovsky)