Global VC execs flock to Israel to study tech ecosystem
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Global VC execs flock to Israel to study tech ecosystem

Kauffman Fellows Annual Summit, held in Israel for the first time, attracts what is being called the largest number of tech investors ever to come to Israel as a group

Tel Aviv's Azrieli Center by night (Yehoshua Yosef/Flash90)
Tel Aviv's Azrieli Center by night (Yehoshua Yosef/Flash90)

Some 300 global venture capitalists and investors are in Israel this week to study the local tech ecosystem and meet with industry players.

The delegation, called the largest contingent of global VCs ever to come to Israel as a group, is part of The Kauffman Fellows Annual Summit, which is being held in Israel for the first time this year. The event is an annual, global, invite-only gathering of venture capitalists and investors in innovation. The delegation will include Kauffman Fellows from around the world, representing firms like Microsoft Ventures, Social Capital, Intel Capital, Google Ventures, BlackRock Private Equity Partners and some 500 startups.

“We are kicking off the summit today,” said Kauffman VP John McIntyre, who organized the visit, in a phone interview on Sunday. Israel’s tech scene is “very successful” and the idea is to learn about the local ecosystem and the venture capital sector, to make connections with startups, the local VC industry and the entrepreneurs he said.

“We are hoping to learn what has made Israel such a special ecosystem, what the role of the VCs and the government have been, and how to take it to the next level,” McIntyre said.

Investors are getting more global, he said, and holding the meeting in Israel will expose them to the local scene and perhaps open up new opportunities. “Many of our fellows are already involved in the local scene, but many are not here yet.”

The Kaufmann Fellows is a network of 525 members from the US, Europe, South America, Asia and the Middle East. To join the network, applicants need to be  recommended by other fellows, and they join an $80,000 two-year program of studies and mentoring by other venture capitalists.

The fellowship was set up in 1995, is based in Silicon Valley, and today counts more than 500 graduates from more than 40 countries.

The visitors are being hosted in Israel by Start-Up Nation Central and The Jerusalem Development Authority.

There are 13 Israeli Kauffman fellows, who were the ones to push to have the event in Israel this year.  The agenda will include talks by venture capitalists, sessions and panels, as well as a meeting with Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the organizers said in a statement.

On Monday the Kaufmann Fellows will also announce a new scholarship program to increase diversity within the fellowship and include more women and minorities, said McIntyre.

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