OurCrowd Bets On Early Stage Startups, Marks Record Growth In Israeli Tech Ecosystem

OurCrowd, Israel’s most active venture investor and crowdfunding platform, is betting on seed and early-stage startups as part of a long-term strategy for the next decade, having wrapped up 10 years of record growth in the Israeli tech ecosystem.

OurCrowd is hosting its annual Global Investor Summit in Jerusalem on Thursday with more than 20,000 attendees from over 150 countries including Muslim and Arab nations.

Many of OurCrowd’s 212 portfolio companies – including 138 Israeli startups and firms – are at the International Convention Center in the Israeli capitals where investors, entrepreneurs, multinational executives, and officials are taking part in discussion panels, breakout sessions and other gatherings at one of the biggest events in the Israeli tech ecosystem.

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Among the companies presenting at the conference are Alpha Tau Medical, an Israeli medical technology company that developed breakthrough radiation cancer therapy and announced promising initial results of a preclinical trial, and Sight Diagnostics, an Israeli medical tech startup that developed lab-grade blood testing system that can conduct a full blood analysis with just a few drops of blood. It’s been dubbed the anti-Theranos.

The entrance to the OurCrowd Global Investor Summit in Jerusalem February 13, 2020. CourtesyThe entrance to the OurCrowd Global Investor Summit in Jerusalem on February 13, 2020. Courtesy

“As we approach the next decade, we realize that there is huge opportunity to invest in game-changing technology companies at their earliest stage – in pre-seed, seed, and Series A funding rounds,” said OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved. “Early-stage investing is at best stagnant, and in many cases down, both in Israel and around the world, as most venture capitalists chase unicorns and are showering later stage companies with unprecedented amounts of capital at increasingly nosebleed inducing valuations. 

“We want to increase our activity and focus where the next generation of breakthrough technologies will emerge. Nature abhors a vacuum, and now there is vast and underappreciated potential in early-stage investing. It’s a thrill to help these companies grow and thrive,” he went on in a statement.

Some of the top trends spotted by OurCrowd for the next 10 years include more offerings in the food tech industry and specifically alternative and lab-grown meat, a rise of automated processes thanks to AI and machine learning, new advancements in health and medical tech, and more developments in autonomous driving tech.

Decade of record growth

OurCrowd said the annual summit caps a “decade of remarkable and exponential growth in the Israeli tech ecosystem,” where from 2010-2019, annual investments in Israeli startups grew over 400 percent and annual exit value grew 900 percent.”

Since 2013 when it first launched operations, OurCrowd said its investor commitments, number of accredited investors, and summit registrations have increased by 2,000 percent. Beginning with just under 2,500 investors, the platform now has over 40,000, according to Jon Medved, OurCrowd’s founder and CEO.

The organization has also gained over $500 million in new funding commitments in 2019, bringing the total to over $1.4 billion in seven years. OurCrowd has overseen a total of 36 exits since its founding.

Speaking during a press briefing on Thursday, Medved said OurCrowd invested in 38 new companies in 2019 – including Cartica, SeeTrue, NanoMedic, and DouxMatok – and oversaw eight exits, including the two most prominent IPOs of 2019: Beyond Meat and Uber. The other six were M&A exits and included Magisto (acquired by Vimeo), Wave (acquired by HR Block), Cognigo (acquired by NetApp), Ubimo (acquired by Quotient), PowWow (acquired by Magic Software) and NooBaa (acquired by Red Hat).

Jon Medved speaking at the OurCrowd Sync: Sao Paulo 2019 gathering on September 25, 2019. Photo by Deborah BlankJon Medved speaking at the OurCrowd Sync: Sao Paulo 2019 gathering on September 25, 2019. Photo by Deborah Blank

“As we start the new decade, we want to celebrate the incredible achievements of the Israeli tech ecosystem over the past 10 years, and OurCrowd’s key part in this unbelievable story,” Medved said.

Looking ahead, OurCrowd seeks to take a “long-term view” and focus on the next decade. “To continue this exponential growth, we will need to redouble our efforts in the seed and early-stage investment arena, as well as strengthen and leverage our growing network of global investors. Together we can make this next decade a truly Roaring Twenties,” he added.

“There is real opportunity in early-stage investing. There is currently an imbalance in the market, and if we’re looking years ahead, we need a strategy and this is it. We’re going to see enormous growth,” Medved tells NoCamels.

“We need to focus on real people, on addressing big world problems and challenges and on saving lives,” Medved says.

The fact that members of 22 Arab and Muslim countries registered for this conference is “unbelievably huge,” he adds. “Everyone is looking or tech and innovation, they’re all interested.”

Israel and the Jewish people, he says, have “a long-standing tradition of turning curses into blessings. No natural resources? Focus on human resources. No water? Become a water tech leader. No finances? Go global. Kids need to go into the army [Israel has mandatory military conscription]”? Turn that into leadership training.”

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“Entrepreneurship is about spirit and its best expression in Israel is in tech,” he added.

OurCrowd runs 20 diversified funds and has government backing for four incubators in Israel, together with leading partners. These include CanNegev, an incubator in the southern Israeli town of Yeruham for the development of cutting-edge medical cannabis technologies (together with Perrigo, a private label over-the-counter pharmaceuticals manufacturer and BoL Pharma, one of the first licensed cannabis cultivators in Israel); Freshstart, a food tech incubator in Kiryat Shmona (with Tnuva, Tempo, and Finistere Ventures); Labs/02, OurCrowd’s first incubator based in Jerusalem (with Reliance Industries and in collaboration with Hebrew University’s Yissum); and Labs/08, an offshoot of the Jerusalem incubator in Beersheba that focuses on cybersecurity in the medical field (with Reliance Industries the owner of Jio telecommunications company, and in collaboration with Soroka Medical Center, and the Israel National Cyber Directorate).

OurCrowd also recently announced its participation in a global consortium to run an agtech and food tech incubator in New Zealand together with Sprout, Finistere, Fontera, and Gallagher. It is the first of a planned major expansion of incubator opportunities globally.

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