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The US Springboard Project, a women-only opportunity to sell ideas to potential investors, has for the first time ventured to Israel to help women holding senior executive positions in Israeli companies raise American venture capital.
"Today there are many very talented women in senior executive positions but when it comes to raising investment capital, the biggest challenge for women is cracking the tight network of venture capitalists who are connected with potential deals," said Amy Millman, president of Springboard Ventures, a Washington-based non-profit organization that coaches women-owned and -run businesses in the search for venture capital, during her first visit to Israel to start the project. "The companies they are running are often not speaking the language of investors. At the same time investors are not used to seeing and working with women - they are used to people who look like them and work like them and thus more women have to get out there and learn how to play the game."
Since 2000, Springboard programs have raised $3.5 billion for about 350 businesses of various sizes throughout the US. For the project in Israel, some 45 Israeli companies have submitted their nominations for the project, mostly from the life science and biotechnology field of which 12 companies were selected.
"Per capita we believe that there are more highly talented and educated women in Israel and a higher concentration of women in the fields of medical science and biotechnology," said Millman. "Many of the very talented career women here know the scientific world, but they don't know the money world. They are very shy of publicity and prefer to stay in the background, but in order to attract investor capital you need both substance and presence."
This month, the program started with a coaching seminar co-sponsored by Tel Aviv University on how to present business plans to investors. In April, the 12 selected investment-ready high-growth Israeli companies in telecom, security, IT and life sciences will be part of a company showcase to an audience of corporate, angel and venture investors at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Among the selected companies are BioCancell Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology company specializing in the development of patient-oriented, targeted therapy for the treatment of a wide range of cancers; Hooja, a software company that provides a converged technology platform to enable interactivity between digital screens, the web and mobile devices; NexSig Ltd., a developer of adaptive diagnostic systems for early detection of neurological disorders and WideMed, a leading player in the growing biomedical signal diagnostics and treatment market offering the most comprehensive sleep information system currently available.