TechNation: Trax Raises $18.5 Million, Just Six Months After $40 Million Round

SpacePharma to launch satellite to conduct microgravity research; 3M seeking to sell Israel-based Electronic Monitoring unit; AIG on the hunt for insurance tech startups.

Joel Bar-El and Dror Feldheim
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Trax raises $18.5 million, just six months after a $40 million round

Just six months after it raised $40 million, the Israeli-Singaporean startup Trax Image Recognition said on Monday it had completed another round of funding at $19.5 million. The maker of image-recognition technology used food and beverage makers to track how their products are selling on store shelves, said South Africa’s Investec Bank, which led the round, with a number of family investment funds providing the rest of the money. Trax will use the capital to expand its global operations with a focus on products and services for top-tier retailers. “Experience has told us that a small unlisted company that was able to attract multi-nationals including Coca-Cola, Nestle, Proctor & Gamble and AB InBev, must have a product and service worthy of closer attention,” said Richard Forlee, head of Investec’s Asian principal and private equity operations. Founded in 2010 by Israelis Joel Bar-El and Dror Feldheim and headquartered in Singapore, Trax has raised a total of $97.5 million to date. Bar-El said the latest round valued the Trax at $250 million. (Eliran Rubin)

SpacePharma to launch satellite to conduct microgravity research

SpacePharma, an Israeli-Swiss startup that offers drug developers an environment of microgravity to conduct experiments, is set to launch its first satellite in about a week. The microsatellite it will be putting into orbit contains its proprietary mGnify lab facilities for conducting experiments remotely freed from the gravity-induced effects that provide researchers with a clear window on biological and physical processes. Four research groups from Israel, Germany and Britain will be conducting experiments abroad in the satellite that is about the size of a shoebox and weighs just 4.5 kilograms. Dubbed Dido, the satellite will be launched on a rocket by the Indian Space Research Organization, together with other satellites, including a second one from Israel.  Until now, all research involving microgravity has been performed by astronauts on the International Space Station and other orbiting facilities, which has resulted in long lines for experiments.  “The uniqueness of our technology is that you can conduct scientific research without an astronaut,” explained SpacePharma’s CEO and cofounder Yossi Yamin. (Ora Coren)

3M seeking to sell Israel-based Electronic Monitoring unit

The U.S. conglomerate 3M Corporation is putting its Israel-based Electronic Monitoring unit up for sale at a price expected to reach between $200 million and $250 million, sources have told TheMarker. 3M acquired the company — a maker of devices to monitor prisoners and devices to monitor printing processes — then known as Attenti Holdings, for $230 million in 2010 from Francisco Partners and Sequoia Capital. To sell the company, 3M has retained Wells Fargo Bank to advise it and had already met with several potential buyers from Israel and overseas, among them the British buyout fund Apax Partners. At this stage, no binding offers have been made, sources said. Founded in 1990 as Dmatek and for a while listed on the London Stock Exchange, Attenti employs several hundred people and does more than a $100 million a year of sales. (Michael Rochvarger)

AIG on the hunt for insurance tech startups 

AIG Israel said on Monday it is on the hunt for Israeli startups specializing in insurance tech to invest in. The project, which it unveiled at a news conference marking the 20th anniversary of the U.S. insurance giant’s operations in Israel, will focus on machine learning, big data analytics, internet of things and other areas that could improve the insurers’ product offerings and improve customer experience, it said. AIG Israel’s parent, American International Group, which operates in 130 countries, will be part of the effort. AIG isn’t the only multinational insurance company on the lookout for Israeli insure-tech startups. In November, Jerusalem Venture Partners teamed up with AXA Strategic Ventures, a venture capital fund backed by French insurer AXA, to launch a competition for Israeli startups dealing with insurance technologies.  The winners will be announced this month. Venture Scanner estimates that insure-tech venture funding has grown at an annual rate of 31% since 2011. (Assa Sasson and TheMarker Staff)