Major Bank Seeks to Invest in Israeli Start Ups

As reported in Globes;

InnoVentures, the Spanish group’s innovation arm, hopes to invest in at least one Israeli startup by the end of 2015.

Senior officials from the Santander Group, one of Europe’s largest banks, visited Israel this month to look for potential investments in Israeli startups, sources inform “Globes”. According to experts, the group’s investment fund, Santander InnoVentures, is expected to invest in at least one Israeli startup by the end of the year.

The delegation to Israel, headed by its managing partner Mariano Belinky, held a number of meetings with a variety of representatives of the FinTech sector in Israel. They met with officials from Blumberg Capital, Vintage, Battery Ventures, Glilot Capital Partners, and Bessemer Venture Partners, as well as representatives of Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, the local Citi Innovation Lab, and Team8.

The Santander delegation also met with several startups including Colu, which develops an authentication system based on Bitcoin technology; GetGems, which develops an app that integrates notifications for payments; WorkCapital, which develops an app to track cash flows and bridging loands for small businesses and suppliers; and Payoneer, which develops solutions for online money transfer for business across the world.

Santander InnoVentures, a $100 million fund, was launched last year by the bank’s chief Ana Botín as part of Santander Group’s wider innovation strategy. The fund was founded to invest in FinTech firms and help their development by leveraging the bank’s global resources, while also assuring that Santander’s global clientele reap the benefits of the latest, most innovative technologies.

While the Santander Group does not operate a branch in Israel, its FinTech fund recognized the tremendous value of Israeli innovation; in March it invested $5 million in Israeli startup MyCheck, which developed a mobile wallet app.

Belinky said, “Israel is the only country where we work despite the lack of local operations by the banking group, since Israeli has a unique ecosystem and a supply of first-rate talent, in the innovation sector as a whole and specifically in the FinTech sector.

“During the last visit, we managed to meet many entrepreneurs and we made significant progress in our search for potential investments; I believe that by the end of the year we will be able to announce additional local investments, with which we will expand ties to firms and bring their innovations to Santander clients around the world.”

Belinky explained that the fund was focusing on investments of up to $10 million in the Series A or B rounds when startups already have a product they can offer to the bank’s clients.

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