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Israeli-UK fund to invest in education technologies

MindCET, the technological arm of the Center for Educational Technology (CET), has announced the founding of a fund for investment in edu-tech in cooperation with the UK government. The fund, called TaskForce, will initially invest $250,000 in each of 4-6 ventures annually. In the next stage, the fund is likely to grow to $30 million. Taking part in the venture on the UK side are the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) and UK Israel Tech Hub, the innovation center of the UK Embassy in Israel.

The main investor in the venture will be the Arie Capital fund, a UK fund specializing in Israeli technological investment, joined by the Beracha Foundation , an Israeli philanthropic organization; CET itself; Indian educational technology company Educorp Technologies; a Japanese company; and an undisclosed Chinese investor. Standing behind the venture is UK film producer and director Lord David Puttnam, who produced "Midnight Express" and "Chariots of Fire," and who is now dedicating his life to promoting education in the UK. He will also be the fund's CEO.

Warshavsky said, "Israel and the UK are very similar in educational technologies. Both countries are good at growing startups, but neither of them has many investors in this field, because investors there believe that education is a conservative field, in contrast to the US, where educational technology is flourishing and gaining momentum."

Minister of Education Naftali Bennett welcomed the founding of the fund, saying, "Israel has the potential to be a leader in edu-tech, just as it has become an important cyber player. We have highly motivated entrepreneurs, teachers willing to try new things, and a tradition that regards education as important. The investment platform that MindCET is launching together with the UK partners can play an important role on the way to achieving this goal."

Warshavsky notes that some of the investments will be in startups that graduated from the MindCET incubator, but the fund will also be open to entrepreneurs who are not graduates of the incubator. Representatives of the investors in the fund will begin selecting the ventures in the coming weeks. Warshavsky adds that the fund's investors can continue investing in mature Taskforce companies independently, beyond their investment in the fund.

As part of this cooperation, the Israeli startups will be able to test their products in the UK educational system, a larger market, while UK startups will be able to test their products on diverse and special populations, such as those existing in Israel.

Participants in the launching of the fund included Ronald Reed, founder of SXSW-edu, the world's largest and most highly regarded technology festival; Matt Keller, a senior director of XPRIZE, which supports educational ventures; Beracha Foundation director Dr. Tali Yariv; and BESA director Patrick Hayes.

Gali Weinreb