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Israel’s OurCrowd to set up $100 million fund to invest in pandemic-busting tech

The Pandemic Innovation Fund to focus on vaccines and testing; digital health; remote working and distance learning apps, among other technology

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

OurCrowd's Jon Medved speaks at the OurCrowd Global Summit, February 16, 2017 (Yosef Adest)
OurCrowd's Jon Medved speaks at the OurCrowd Global Summit, February 16, 2017 (Yosef Adest)

OurCrowd, a Jerusalem-based crowdfunding venture capital firm, said it plans to raise a $100 million Pandemic Innovation Fund that will invest in technologies that tackle medical, business, educational and social needs triggered by global pandemics and other health emergencies.

Innovation is needed urgently to ensure that the world can get “back on track” from the coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging nations and economies, said OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved in a statement. “Technology can help us overcome many of the problems resulting from the crisis. It’s time for tech to move fast and fix things.”

The pandemic has accelerated the pace of technology adoption across many sectors, while regulators worldwide, such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have fast-tracked approval of new diagnostic tools.

Employees have downloaded remote working apps and IT professionals have had to make changes to cybersecurity programs to allow the transition to working from home.

MeMed’s analyzer, a ‘point of need’ testing device to find out quickly whether an infection is viral or bacterial (Courtesy)

The Pandemic Innovation Fund will focus on investing in a number of sectors including the prevention and containment of diseases via vaccines and testing; treatment and healing technologies including therapeutics, diagnostics, remote monitoring devices and digital health; and technologies that allow continuity and the mitigation of disruption, like apps that enable remote working, distance learning, robotic processes, home exercise and cybersecurity.

The fund will invest in new startups and in select relevant companies that are already part of OurCrowd’s existing portfolio, the statement said, and is open for investment to both accredited private investors and institutional investors.

OurCrowd is invested in more than 20 startups that are already working to mitigate the coronavirus crisis and its effects, some of which will be candidates for follow-on investment from new fund, the statement said.

These include:

  • MigVax, which is developing the MigVax-101 COVID-19 oral subunit vaccine for humans based on a platform that was shown to be an effective oral vaccine against IBV (infectious bronchitis virus) in poultry
  • SaNOtize, which has developed a nitric oxide releasing solution for the prevention and early treatment of COVID-19′ of which Health Canada has approved a multi-center Phase II trial
  • TytoCare, which has developed devices for remote physical exams and monitoring for patient care and COVID-19 patients
  • MeMed, which provides diagnostic insights to distinguish between bacterial and viral infections and provides solutions to enable early intervention, before the onset of COVID-19 symptoms

OurCrowd also said in the statement that it will hold a online Pandemic Innovation conference on June 22, broadcast from Jerusalem.

“Together we must tackle the current pandemic as well as plan for future ones, because this story is just beginning. Entrepreneurs are uniquely skilled to provide fast and effective solutions to some of our greatest challenges. Our new fund will create the bridge between the innovations we need and the far-sighted investors able to provide the resources required to improve our world,” Dr. Morris Laster, a partner in the fund, said.

OurCrowd already has $1.4 billion of committed funding, and investments in 200 portfolio companies and 20 venture funds.

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