Israel's OurCrowd launches $100m. pandemic innovation fund

"The rapid spread of the coronavirus has validated our vision of a connected digital world poised to solve any crisis through global communication and rapid response."

A MigVax researcher works on a COVID-19 vaccine. (photo credit: COURTESY MIGVAX AND OURCROWD)
A MigVax researcher works on a COVID-19 vaccine.
(photo credit: COURTESY MIGVAX AND OURCROWD)
Jerusalem-based venture capital platform OurCrowd launched a $100 million investment fund on Tuesday, targeting technological solutions to combat and cope with COVID-19 and future pandemics.
The “Pandemic Innovation Fund” will invest in new start-ups and more than 20 existing portfolio companies, OurCrowd said, answering medical, business, educational and social needs resulting from health emergencies.
Crowdfunding investment platform OurCrowd, headed by serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist Jon Medved, cited the acceleration of technology adoption during the current COVID-19 crisis, FDA approval of new digital diagnostic tools, a major increase in remote working and cybersecurity adaptation for the emergence of the increasingly digital world as factors behind the launch of the fund.
Jon Medved (photo credit: OURCROWD)Jon Medved (photo credit: OURCROWD)
“The rapid spread of the coronavirus has validated our vision of a connected digital world poised to solve any crisis through global communication and rapid response,” Medved said. “To ensure that we get the world back on track, there is now an urgent need for innovation. Technology can help us overcome many of the problems resulting from the crisis. It’s time for tech to move fast and fix things.”
The fund will focus on three key investment sectors: prevention and containment, including vaccines, testing and personal protection; treatment and healing, including therapeutics, diagnostics, remote monitoring and digital health; and continuity and disruption mitigation, including remote working, distance learning, home exercise and cybersecurity.
Among the first start-ups to benefit from the fund will be Israeli portfolio companies MigVax, an affiliate of the Migal Galilee Research Institute working to develop an oral coronavirus vaccine, and Sight Diagnostics, a Tel Aviv start-up combining artificial intelligence and computer vision to carry out lab-grade complete blood count tests at point of care.
Previous investments in technologies currently assisting the global battle against the coronavirus include Haifa-based MeMed Diagnostics, which announced on Tuesday that it had received CE Mark clearance for a platform and diagnostic test to rapidly distinguish between viral and bacterial infections.
On Monday, fellow portfolio company Zebra Medical Vision said its machine learning AI1 platform to analyze CT scans would be deployed by India’s Apollo Hospitals chain to assist doctors accurately diagnose patients with COVID-19.
The new fund will be open to both accredited private investors and institutional investors willing to invest at least $50,000 or $1 million, respectively.
“Together we must tackle the current pandemic as well as plan for future ones, because this story is just beginning,” said fund partner Dr. Morris Laster, who will head the fund together with general partners Dr. Morry Blumenfeld and David Sokolic. “Entrepreneurs are uniquely skilled to provide fast and effective solutions to some of our greatest challenges. Our new fund will create the bridge between the innovations we need and the far-sighted investors able to provide the resources required to improve our world.”