Tel Aviv University’s venture capital fund has led an investment round worth almost $2 million for two Israeli start-ups, Castor and Hoopo, the fund announced on Wednesday TAU Ventures is the first and only academic-based venture-capital fund in Israel. It is similar to university-backed or affiliated funds at leading United States institutions including Stanford University; the University of California, Berkeley; and Harvard University. Castor, founded by Omer Blaier and Elad Schiller in 2017, combines artificial intelligence with three-dimensional printing for a range of hi-tech companies, enabling them to utilize advanced printing technology and cut costs.The start-up’s unique technology assists manufacturers by automatically analyzing and determining the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of 3D printing in the manufacturing process.Castor will benefit from approximately $400,000 in combined funding from TAU Ventures, British businessman Jeremy Coller, Techstars Accelerator and Stanley Black & Decker.Ra’anana-based Hoopo’s unique patent-pending technology enables GPS-independent geo-location by providing accurate positioning for low-power devices. Its primary customers include airports, ports, harbors and car dealerships.Founded by geo-location experts in 2016, Hoopo has raised over $1.5 million to date coming from a group of investors including TAU Ventures, Amit Gilon, AirMap CEO Ben Marcus and Mobileye investors Zvika Pritch and Ido Grinberg.Castor and Hoopo join three previous recipients of TAU Ventures funding: Loola, Cyabra and Xtend. The fund operates two accelerator programs, one backed by Japanese giant NEC and the other backed by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).“When we launched the fund, we wanted to build a new model integrating the identification of quality entrepreneurs on one hand and granting unrivaled value for those same entrepreneurs on the other,” said Nimrod Cohen, managing partner at TAU Ventures.“This is done through a unique program with different organizations, access to Tel Aviv University academic and laboratory research and the utilization of the university’s strong connections in global industry.” “Today, we can say that our model produces deal-flow of a high standard. Within six months we have been introduced to hundreds of start-ups and invested in five. Our investment portfolio is varied and we believe that each one of the companies that we have invested in will change the market in which it works.” TAU undergraduate programs have produced 640 entrepreneurs and 531 companies that have raised a combined $7.91 billion in venture capital funding since 2006, according to a study published by PitchBook earlier this month. That places it eighth globally in producing successful and serial graduate entrepreneurs.Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology was ranked 14th globally, having produced 468 entrepreneurs and 395 companies that have raised $7.2 billion. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was ranked 35th globally, having produced 304 entrepreneurs and 268 companies that have raised $4.31 billion.