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Economic News from Israel

  • Google has acquired Ra’anana-based Waze for $1.3 billion. The acquisition of the Israeli navigation app and traffic reports start-up will be completed after months of reports that Waze would be sold to either Google or Facebook. The company has almost 50 million users.
  • Cisco has opened an innovation center in Israel along with Pelephone to develop and deploy a radio network topology for handling the surge in demand for mobile Internet services. It will test on Pelephone’s live production network the world’s first self-optimizing heterogenous configuration that combines small-cell, WiFi, and macro technologies.
  • Misgav-based Trendlines Group is raising a new NIS 300 million venture capital fund which it will invest in medical devices and cleantech companies. Trendlines is the franchisee of the Misgav Venture Accelerator and Mofet Venture Accelerator, and operates Trendlines Labs for medical devices projects in collaboration with multinationals. The new fund will invest in current Trendlines portfolio companies as well as in new companies that graduate from Misgav and Mofet.
  • The Trendlines Group also scored two of the three best Israeli technology incubator graduate companies in a recent competition by the Technological Incubators Association. Mofet Venture Accelerator portfolio company Sol Chip has developed a device that converts solar energy directly into power for mobile handsets. Misgav Venture Accelerator portfolio company Apifix has developed a minimally invasive implant to treat adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. The third company is Cartiheal from the Incentive incubator.
  • Eden Shochat and Michael Eisenberg have teamed up to establish the new $100 million Aleph venture capital fund. Both are veterans of the Israeli VC industry, and will mainly invest in Internet and mobile ventures in line with their former affiliations with Genesis and Benchmark.
  • Tel Aviv-based SodaStream has teamed up with KitchenAid to jointly develop a home carbonation system for the KitchenAid portfolio of kitchen appliances and culinary tools. The companies are planning the retail launch of the soda maker in the fourth quarter of 2013.
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to appoint Ron Dermer as Israel’s next Ambassador to the US. Over the past four years, Dermer has served as a senior advisor to the prime minister, and previously served as the economic attaché at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, and he was the keynote speaker at AICC’s Professional Seminar in 2006.
  • GE has invested in Netanya-based HeadSense, developer of a non-invasive intracranial pressure monitor with an earbuds-like disposable unit that is placed in the patient’s ears. The device generates an acoustic signal that is circulated through the head and then is picked up in the other ear using an acoustic sensor. Dr. Michael Blaivas from the department of Emergency Medicine, Northside Hospital Forsyth in Metro Atlanta serves on the company’s advisory board.
  • Jacob Frenkel has been chosen for a second term as governor of the Bank of Israel by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Finance Yair Lapid. He will replace Stanley Fischer who stepped down at the end of June. Frenkel is known as a macro-economics expert, and received the Israel Prize for economics in 2002.
  • Exports of Israeli foods and beverages to the US reached a record $224 million in 2012 according to the Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute. While this is a 3% increase over 2011, it represented nearly 50% growth since 2008 when exports were at $144 million.
  • Israel set an all time monthly record for tourism in May with 336,000 visitors entering the country, a 5% increase over the previous May according to the Tourism Ministry. From the start of January through the end of May, 1.4 million visitors entered Israel, a 1% increase over the same period in 2012.
  • Israel’s economy grew at an annualized 2.7% in the first quarter of 2013, slightly less than previously estimated due to smaller growth rates of exports and consumer spending and a steeper drop in investment according to Central Bureau of Statistics. Growth is projected at 2.8% this year, excluding the start of natural gas production.

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