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Israel help fund 'groundbreaking' tech

The Israel Innovation Authority, the Ministry of Economy and Industry, and the National Cyber Directorate have announced a new NIS 90 million ($24 million), three-year program to boost Israel’s cyber industry.

The funds will be earmarked to support long-term “groundbreaking” new technologies that have “significant potential to influence the global market” and add to the future foundation of the industry in Israel. They will also help startups access information, systems and test sites that are not easily available to them.

The program is three-pronged: it will invest in technologies seen as having “game-changing” potential on a global level; it will support larger companies that are moving on from the development stage by funding pilot tests of their technologies with potential clients; and will boost resources to CyberSpark, the Israel Cyber Innovation Arena in Beersheba, to further strengthen its position as a global hub for cybersecurity.

Despite significant investment from VCs who have expressed faith in the local cyber market, many companies face challenges in finding suitable sites to test their technologies,” said the CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority, Aharon Aharon. “This new program solves this issue and will significantly accelerate companies’ growth and penetration into the global market.”

Israel is known for its cybersecurity prowess and accounted for the second-largest number of cybersecurity deals globally, an April report compiled by New York data firm CB Insights shows.

According to the report, Israel accounted for seven percent of the cybersecurity global deal share in the years 2013-2017, way behind the US, which accounted for 69% of the global deal share, but higher than the UK, which accounted for 6% of the pie. Canada accounted for 3% and China for 2% of the global deal share, the report showed.

The new government funding announced on Tuesday will be for Israeli cybertechnology companies that deal with high-risk research and development. Under the initiative, startups will be eligible for funding of up to 66% of their R&D expenses, and up to NIS 5 million ($1.35 million) a year for their project. The program will also finance up to 30% of the budget of a pilot test in Israel and up to 50% of a pilot test abroad on approved projects, the authority said.

The program “will ensure that Israel continues to meet the cyber sector’s biggest challenges, secure our place at the forefront of innovation, and bolster Israel’s global leadership in this critical industry,” Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen said in a statement.

In addition, the Israel National Cyber Directorate and the Innovation Authority will jointly promote the creation of “innovation arenas” in sectors that are undergoing a significant digital transformation — like health, transportation and finance — which are becoming more and more exposed to cyber threats.

The innovation arenas will convene international industrial players, regulators, academics, and representatives of Israel’s cybersecurity industry to try to find solutions for current and future challenges facing these industries.

The new program will be an addition to the existing support programs offered by the Innovation Authority and the government, the statement said.

Shoshanna Solomon