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Microsoft, GE and Tata lead $20m funding of IoT incubator in Israel

Steve Rogerson
November 19, 2016
 
Microsoft and General Electric are among the global investors in a $20m funding round for on IoT incubator in Israel.
 
Called i3 Equity Partners, it will focus on developing next-generation IoT and industrial IoT technologies.
 
Other investors include Tata, Qualcomm, HNA EcoTech, Pitango Venture Capital and Ramot, the business engagement centre of Tel Aviv University (TAU).
 
Through this collaboration, the partners will support promising early-stage Israeli ventures, enabling them to reach an advanced phase of development, and ultimately strengthen their presence in global markets. The partners, on their part, expect to tap the acclaimed ingenuity and knowhow of the Israeli technology industry for growing their enterprises in the field of IoT.
 
With headquarters at the TAU campus, i3 will be headed by managing partners Noga Kap and Eran Wagner, both Israeli entrepreneurs as well as investors with experience in early-stage investments, and chaired by Shlomo Nimrodi, chief executive officer of Ramot, and a veteran of the Israeli high-tech industry.
 
“The Tata group is excited about partnering with leading multinationals like GE, Qualcomm and Microsoft, along with Tel Aviv University and the venture capital fund Pintago,” said KRS Jamwal, executive director of Tata Industries. “The group, since inception, has focused on developing new technologies in the spirit of innovation that is strongly embedded in its DNA. We hope to provide guidance and mentorship to the start-ups based on our experience of operating across a range of sectors, across multiple geographies. We could also potentially help start-ups scale easily by facilitating better access to market.”
 
He said the collaboration would help identify and support breakthrough innovations in IoT, and he looked forward to having early access to new technologies with a focus on high quality products and ideas that would develop through the initiative.
 
Shlomo Nimrodi, chairman of i3 Equity Partners, added: "This one-of-a-kind collaboration of some of the world's largest corporations with Israel's leading academic institution and largest venture capital fund, is a testament to their trust in the ability of Israeli entrepreneurs to come up with the next big thing that will transform our world. The fact that we were able to bring all these leading partners around one table, providing access to their technologies, markets and clients, and also attract top venture capital talent to lead this initiative, generates the highly unique differentiators we will be offering to top entrepreneurs."
 
I3 will annually provide three to five high-potential seed and pre-seed start-ups with optimal conditions for success including financial investment of up to $1m each, supplemented by high-value in-kind contributions including technology, tools, mentoring and business development.
 
There will also be access to supportive multinational corporations at all stages of development – technology validation, design, proof-of-concept, later-stage investments, and ultimately the purchase of mature technologies and their distribution in high-potential markets, including China and India.
 
The centre of excellence aims to offer world-class office space right next to the TAU campus with its multiple research and service centres. And there will be active professional assistance in the processes of business development, marketing, recruiting and product innovation.
 
General Electric has acquired ServiceMax, a cloud-based field service management company, for $915m. The acquisition provides GE Digital with enhanced capabilities to advance its industrial internet vision, enabling customers to gain more value from their assets and find efficiency in field service processes.