TEL AVIV, April 29 (Reuters) - Tata Industries will invest $5 million in a new Tel Aviv University (TAU) technology fund, saying it saw the university as its Israeli research and development centre.
Tata, part of Indian conglomerate Tata Group, will be the lead investor in a planned $20 million fund at TAU’s technology transfer company Ramot aimed at commercialising their research.
“For Tata, we ... see innovation and R&D as an area of focus and a source of competitive advantage going forward,” Rameshwar Jamwal, executive director at Tata Industries, told reporters on Monday.
Jamwal said it was Tata’s first major investment in Israel and that it would likely invest further.
“This is our attempt to scout Israeli technology more deeply,” he said. “This allows us over a period of time to show our commitment to Israel but we are interested in doing more.”
Tata will work with TAU’s scientists to help steer them towards applying commercial uses for their research.
“It’s someone to test your ideas and say what’s a mistake,” said Shlomo Nimrodi, Ramot’s chief executive. “Tata knows the market better.”
He noted that TAU invests $150 million a year in R&D. Among Ramot’s big successes is flash memory, which was licensed by an Israeli company before it was sold to Sandisk, which still pays millions of dollars of royalties to the university.
Nimrodi said the new fund will invest in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, cleantech, food security, the environment, engineering and software.
He noted that in some cases, Tata will get the right of first opportunity in a particular research project.
Many large global companies have R&D facilities in Israel, including Intel, Microsoft, IBM, Google, HP and Yahoo.