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Jerusalem earmarks $130 million to boost biotech startups in holy city

The new fund will invest in life-sciences companies that do research and development or production activity that is based in Jerusalem  

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustrative: Medical personnel at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center, on March 2, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative: Medical personnel at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center, on March 2, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Jerusalem Affairs Ministry along with the Jerusalem Development Authority have chosen the LR Group, an operator and manager of projects in the field of agriculture, water and health, to set up a new $130 million Jerusalem Biotech Fund.

The fund will invest in life-sciences companies that do research and development or production activity that is based in Jerusalem.

The initiative will be set up as part of Jerusalem’s five-year development plan called the “Jubilee” plan, which the Authority operates for the ministry and in partnership with the municipality of Jerusalem. The idea is to help boost the establishment of tech companies in Jerusalem with millions of shekels of incentives, the ministry and the authority said in a statement on Sunday.

The Jerusalem Development Authority will be a limited partner in the new biotech fund, marking the first time in a decade that a government authority has set up a fund in which it invests as a limited partner.

The Jerusalem ministry has over the past few years “acted intensively to transform Jerusalem into one of the world’s fastest growing ecosystems in the field of high tech,” Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin said in the statement. One of the aims it has set for the next five years, as part of Jerusalem’s strategic economic development, “is to also turn it into one of the world’s leading cities in all matters related to life sciences.”

The establishment of the new fund, which will increase the amount of money invested in these companies, “is one step towards realizing this goal. I have no doubt that, in the next few years, we will see a significant increase in the number of life sciences companies in Jerusalem,” Elkin said.

The LR Group, owned by Roy Ben Yami and Ami Lustig, was founded in 1985 and runs projects in the fields of healthcare, energy, water, agriculture, communications, and infrastructure. The group said in June that it is investing NIS 50 million ($14 million) in setting up a network of biotech hubs in several medical centers, with the first one at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

The LR group, which won a tender for the project, will establish the biotech fund together with strategic partners including a leading Chinese corporation and additional Israeli bodies, the statement said.

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