More than 18,000 investors, innovators and company executives from 187 countries crowded into Jerusalem's International Convention Center on Thursday as crowdfunding capital venture platform OurCrowd, headquartered in the city, held its annual Global Investor Summit.
OurCrowd, Israel's leading venture investor, announced that it has now raised $1 billion in commitments across 18 funds, investing in 170 start-ups, since it was founded six years ago by serial entrepreneur Jon Medved.
"Venture capital has typically been the most esoteric, exclusive investment activity in the world - it’s the stuff of TV shows or movies," said Medved, CEO & founder of OurCrowd.
"The purpose of the platform is to democratize and globalize access for investors and entrepreneurs."
The novel approach to democratizing the venture process, harnessed by OurCrowd, has enjoyed great success, with 30,000 registered investors from more than 182 countries making up the platform's continuously growing investor community.
While traditional venture capital investments start in the millions of dollars, OurCrowd's thousands of accredited investors can inject as little as $10,000 per deal.
"What makes this conference what it is is that people come here not only expecting to see cybersecurity start-ups, but to see food technology, drones, artificial intelligence, agritech and medtech. It’s just this sheer explosion of entrepreneurial talent, which I think is only in its early days," said Medved.
"New giant companies are being formed somewhere, but that somewhere is not necessarily only in Silicon Valley and Israel, they're being formed all over the world. If we can simply mobilize investment to reach these far-flung countries, we will see a lot more exciting companies emerging from there."
Walking through the corridors of the mammoth convention center, the success of the democratic and accessible approach to making investments was clear to see with start-up booths, all beneficiaries of OurCrowd finances, around every corner.
During the last year alone, OurCrowd invested in 24 new start-ups, witnessed 11 of its companies achieve "exits," opened three new offices, hired over 50 new employees and generated more than 1,000 new positions at portfolio companies.
In addition, the platform launched a new Labs/02 seed stage incubator and hosted 220 tech-tourism delegations in Israel.
"In Israel, we are currently neck-and-neck with China as the second most important country in terms of artificial intelligence start-ups. It's a little bit bizarre, but indicative of the unbelievable nature of the Israeli ecosystem," said Medved.
"Israel is not just a world leader in absolute terms in artificial intelligence, but we’re also a world leader in the next generation of mobility and autonomous driving."
Also at the summit, OurCrowd launched a pet health innovation laboratory and two new venture funds, a $50m. medtech fund focused on innovative medical technologies and therapeutics, and a $30m. impact fund in partnership with Social Finance Israel to advance businesses solving global challenges.
Impact investing, where investors seek to generate social and environmental impact in addition to financial return, has rapidly grown in Israel in recent years, doubling from $130m. in 2016 to $260m. in 2018.
"There is a growing demand from the younger generation to say, 'I want to do well financially and at the same time I want to do good. I want to align my investment strategy with my values,'" Social Finance Israel CEO Yaron Neudorfer told The Jerusalem Post.
"It's not just a declaration of doing good but actually measuring their impact. OurCrowd is actually taking a risk. They will lower their return if their portfolio companies don’t meet their impact key performance indicators."
The fund will provide exposure to a range of impact-driven businesses provided they meet a set of impact practices and criteria, and will join existing impact-focused OurCrowd portfolio companies UPnRIDE, an all-terrain electric wheelchair that enables standing; Edgybees, an augmented reality software developer for rescue drone applications; and Zebra Medical Vision, an algorithm-based platform for radiologists.
Highlighting the potential of impact investment in innovative technologies, Zebra announced at the summit that it was partnering with Apollo Hospitals, the largest hospital network in India, to deploy artificial intelligence in hospitals across the country.
Zebra and Apollo Hospitals will benefit from a grant from the governments of India and Israel for the $4.9 million project, and is designed to identify life-threatening diseases at an early stage and promote preventative treatment.
"We are excited to partner with the leading healthcare brand in India and to bring artificial intelligence to India at such scale," said co-founder & CEO Eyal Gura.
"When we met the Apollo team for the first time a few years ago, we found mutual ground and mutual dreams of how to scale healthcare from millions to billions of patients. We are honored that the two governments placed this trust in us and are committed to utilizing artificial intelligence to impact millions of lives."
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>