Meytav Technological Incubator Release: Israeli Life Science Incubator Attracts $3 M In Public Financing, Accelerates Development Of 15 Companies

KIRYAT SHMONA, Israel, August 8 /PRNewswire/ -- A new form of "incubation" - accelerated development of life science companies - has emerged from the northern part of Israel, based on a unique combination of state, private and public funding - all channeled into a highly aggressive, focused growth model.

This country, known for its scientific excellence and powerful entrepreneurial culture has been operating a state-run incubator system since the early 1990's (www.incubators.org.il). Under this system, entrepreneurs with innovative technological projects would be accepted into an incubator (one of 24 around the country) and were required to provide only 15% of the general project budget for the first 2 years of its operation. The state of Israel (under the Office of the Chief Scientist within the Ministry of Industry and Trade) - would provide the remainder.

Years of scarce VC funding (2000-2003) have led to an increase in the importance of the incubator model, as well as the emergence of the "Privatized Incubator": half of the Israeli incubators were acquired by private investor groups and VC funds, that saw this as an opportunity to leverage state funds while grooming companies for future investment.

The Meytav Technological Incubator, located in the north of Israel, was one of these privatization targets. It was acquired by several investor groups (including the Orhag Group and BiolineRx - a drug development company financed by Teva and Israeli VC's), and it focused its screening and monitoring efforts exclusively on Life Science projects.

The privatization deal was a key turning point for the Meytav Incubator - from a portfolio of 3 companies in August 2003, Meytav now boasts a tailor-made portfolio of 15 companies (www.meytavti.co.il).

Screening is done by advisory committees that include top scientists, industrialists and VC professionals - all with extensive bio-tech experience, and the entire incubator investment and portfolio management processes are performed under VC standards - proactively locating the best projects, thoroughly conducting due diligence, aggressively investing, and pushing for rapid and effective commercialization. This belief also sets the standards for levels of due diligence, transparency and terms of investment.

Meytav provides the portfolio companies with all services required for rapid growth, including strategic modeling, planning and budgeting, location of strategic partners, and access to unique in-house infrastructure that would not have been available to a stand-alone project: a Bio-Medical product design and engineering team and a fully equipped biotechnology R&D laboratory.

Recently, these efforts have borne fruit - and Meytav has set another precedent in Israeli incubator history: a public company traded on the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE: Biomedix Ltd.) has invested $ 3 M in consideration for a controlling interest in the incubator, including a call option on all remaining shares. This investment completely re-shuffles the incubator paradigm - external investors can still leverage state funds, and financing capabilities, professional management and transparency are at new levels - driven by the presence of a traded entity as a controlling owner.

Zvika Rubinstein, CEO of Meytav, commented on the recent investment: "We know that we have selected some of the most promising companies in Israel - our contacts to leading academic institutions, screening and risk management tools are outstanding, and we are happy to see the technological advances achieved by our portfolio companies. Nevertheless, this investment adds the final piece of the puzzle - it allows us to finance our most advanced companies - in order to allow companies to aggressively progress into clinical trials, manufacturing of operational prototypes, strategic collaborations and expansion of IP estates."

"We are now focusing our efforts on financing for 4 companies", he added. "Helix - developing the CBUS(TM) system - for automatic 3D image acquisition of the breast for real time diagnostics and Ultra-Sound guided breast biopsy and treatment. Collplant - that has developed a cost effective production system in transgenic tobacco in order to manufacture human recombinant collagen I with improved thermal stability, Endogun - which has patented new laparoscopic integrated tools to enhance and improve complex laparoscopic procedures and Elutex - owner of a novel coating method for metallic implantable devices, including stents & orthopedic joints, that improves the surface biocompatibility and the release of bioactive agents by the device."

"The fact that Meytav is prepared to match external funding provides proof for its level of commitment and belief in the future prospects of these companies, and we urge potential investors to contact us regarding these opportunities. Moreover, one of our companies is now preparing for an IPO and a leading Scientist / Industrialist is about to join Meytav as Chairman of its Board of directors."

For additional information, please contact: Ophir Shahaf, Adv. Director of Business Development Meytav Technological Incubator Ophir@metavti.co.il

Meytav Technological Incubator

CONTACT: Ophir Shahaf, Adv., Director of Business Development, MeytavTechnological Incubator, Ophir@metavti.co.il

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