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Tel Aviv University’s VC arm raises $50m to invest in startups

TAU Ventures plans to invest up to $1 million each in 15-25 companies founded by Israeli entrepreneurs as part of second such fund

Ricky Ben-David is The Times of Israel’s Startups and Business editor and reporter.

The TAU Ventures team, from left to right: Nimrod Cohen, managing partner, Ella Iwler, VP business operations,  Inbal Perlman, VP business development and Jennifer Schwarz, head of venture programs. (Eran Pereg)
The TAU Ventures team, from left to right: Nimrod Cohen, managing partner, Ella Iwler, VP business operations, Inbal Perlman, VP business development and Jennifer Schwarz, head of venture programs. (Eran Pereg)

Tel Aviv University’s investment arm, TAU ventures, raised $50 million in a second fund to invest in Israeli startups in their early stages, the organization said Monday.

The fund plans to invest up to $1 million in 15-25 companies founded by Israeli entrepreneurs. TAU Ventures’ previous fund of $20 million, launched in 2018, backed Israeli startups such as software tools developer Swimm and Xtend, a maker of extended reality solutions.

TAU Ventures says it uses “various university resources” to “create value for entrepreneurs.

TAU Ventures said that all the investors from the previous fund reinvested in the second fund. Both funds were led by foreign private equity company Chartered Group, with offices in Singapore, Japan, and Europe, as well as new investors in Canada and the US.

The organization said in a statement that it is specifically focused on early financing stages “where there is a shortage in the industry.”

“We are in a period where a lot of money is circulating in the market. However, this can be misleading as there is still a shortage of investors in the early stages in Israel,” said TAU Ventures founding partner Nimrod Cohen. “More investors are operating in A or post-seed stages. They do not talk to entrepreneurs in the initial stages and rather want to see a product that has already reached the market. We are covering this critical stage enabling new companies to emerge.”

Cohen previously led first investments in companies such as e-commerce marketing firm Yotpo (now valued at over $1 billion), logistics startup Bringg, and WSC Sports, sold to Snapchat, while at investment firm Plus Ventures.

TAU Ventures provides “a platform with significant opportunities in innovation and making academic progress beyond the campus boundaries,” said Tel Aviv University president Ariel Porat. “It enables students to integrate practical experience with leading startups during their studies.”

Recently, Tel Aviv University came in eighth place worldwide in PitchBook’s 2021 ranking of 50 leading undergraduate programs that produce the most VC-backed entrepreneurs. According to the study, the undergraduate programs at Tel Aviv University have helped create 912 graduates-turned-founders, who have set up 761 companies and raised a total of $26.8 billion in 2006-2021.

TAU Ventures previously worked with Israel’s security agency, the Shin Bet, on an incubation program for early-stage tech startups in fields like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics, and fintech.

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