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(photo credit: Courtesy photo)
Illinois-based venture capitalists are seeking attractive investment options in Israel as too much capital in the US market limits the opportunities of the VCs to prosper at home.
"The US is flush with too much capital and it has become harder to prosper as there are not enough investment opportunities," said Immanuel Thangaraj, managing director of Essex Woodlands Health Ventures, which manages $2 billion in assets. "Thus we are looking beyond the US to Israel for historical venture returns."
Thangaraj, who said they were seeking investment opportunities mainly in Israeli medical devices companies, was part of a leading business delegation from Chicago to Israel. In addition to seeking out investment opportunities here, the group also was trying to lure more Israeli companies seeking US presence into adopting Chicago as their operational base instead of Silicon Valley, Boston or Atlanta.
"We are here to encourage Israeli companies to operate in Chicago and the Illinois area," said Ralph Gidwitz, managing director of Capital Results LLC and chairman of the Chicago-Israel Business Initiative, a project of the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce Chicago, during an IVA conference in Tel Aviv that was hosting the first business delegation from Chicago. "Our specific goal for the next two to three years is to convince at least three Israeli companies to open up offices in Chicago," he said.
Last week, Vigilon Inc., a developer of enterprise software security solutions, announced the opening of a data protection center in Chicago, in cooperation with Illinois authorities. Vigilon is the 16th Israeli company to adopt Chicago as its operations base in North America following in the footsteps of companies such as Audiocodes.
The Chicago trip was a direct result of a delegation visit from the State of Illinois in June. That week-long trade mission to Israel aimed to develop ties and opportunities between Illinois-based homeland security companies and Israeli homeland security industry leaders and firms.
"The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity offers special cash incentive programs tied to homeland security, which could be very lucrative for Israeli companies seeking to establish themselves internationally," said Gidwitz.
This week's delegation of about 20 people included representatives of leading companies such as Northrop Grumman, as well as VCs, academics and Illinois state representatives.
Gidwitz, an M&A broker, added that during his visit he has met with two Israeli companies, which were not IT companies, interested in making acquisitions in the Midwest. He identified one as publicly traded and one as privately held.
"Chicago has been the best kept secret for the Israeli business community with a potential that has not been fulfilled yet," said Noa Ascher, Economic Council of Israel to the Midwest.
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