Tel Aviv University sets up $20m VC fund

Nimrod Cohen Photo: Yoram Scherf

TAU Ventures is the first venture capital fund established by a university in Israel and is based on similar funds at US universities such as MIT, Berkeley and Stanford.

Tel Aviv University together with investors worldwide is establishing an early stage start up investment venture capital fund named TAU Ventures. Sources close to Tel Aviv University estimate that the fund will total $20 million.

This is the first time that a venture capital fund is being established by a university in Israel based on similar funds at US universities such as MIT, Berkeley and Stanford.

The fund's offices are located in the Miles S. Nadal Home for Technological Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Ramat Aviv, which was recently renovated and will include working spaces for the entrepreneurs that the TAU ventures fund will invest in. Aside from investments, the fund will operate various technological incubator programs, together with strategic partners, in a range of technological fields. The first program which has been running is with Japanese giant NEC, focusing on cybersecurity.

Investors in the fund include Singapore investment fund Chartered High Tech Fund, which brings together leading Japanese firms via the designated “Japan - Israel High Tech Fund”, and additional investors from US and Canada. The fund will operate on a seven year cycle with investments being made in the first four years.

Nimrod Cohen has been appointed managing partner of TAU Ventures. He previously served as a partner in Plus Ventures and led investments in companies such as, YOTPO, Bringg, Ciamgine, WSC Sports (which was sold to Snapchat) and many more.

Tel Aviv University president Joseph Klafter said, “Tel Aviv University is the most innovative and entrepreneurial university in Israel and I am proud that we have reached the next stage by establishing TAU Ventures, the new investment vehicle of the university. This is a new model that has been set up for the first time in Israel, and puts the university on par with the leading universities in the world. As a university that brings together the leading students and alumni in Israel, TAU Ventures will give those of them who are entrepreneurs the opportunity to implement their revolutionary ideas. By doing so the university will contribute among others, to the future of the state of Israel and its consolidation as the startup nation."

Nimrod Cohen said, “The advantage of the fund will be identifying unique opportunities in their early stages and proposing added value to Tel Aviv University's entrepreneurs among the students and alumni, via the variety of resources surrounding the university and its ties to a wide spectrum of industries.”

Chartered Group head Eyal Agmoni said, “We made this investment out of strong belief in Israeli high tech industry in general, and from knowing that a big part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Israel is surrounding Tel Aviv University. The fund will allow early stage entrepreneurs to advance their unique technologies, which they are developing, and in the future can be beneficial to those companies throughout major investments while with our support exposing those companies to leading investors in Asia and Japan.

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Nimrod Cohen Photo: Yoram Scherf
Nimrod Cohen Photo: Yoram Scherf
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