Magenta Venture Partners launches $100m VC fund for industrial AI startups
Israel’s venture capital firm Magenta Venture Partners has announced a new $100 million fund for early-stage Israeli startups focused variously on autonomous vehicles, Industry 4.0, smart cities, and fin-tech, and on artificial intelligence and enterprise software.
The new fund had its initial closing in October 2018, and plans its final closing in 2019.
Magenta Venture Partners is an Israeli-Japanese partnership, based in Tel Aviv, split equally between Tokyo based investment firm Mitsui, and investors Ori Israely, and Ran Levitzky, both from the venture capital industry in Israel.
Latest funding has come from Koito Manufacturing, maker of automotive headlights; all investors in the new fund are Japanese. Magenta Venture Partners said this provides “added value” to Israeli startups looking to build “global leading companies”.
Ori Israely, one of four partners in the fund, formerly of Motorola Solutions Venture Capital and Giza Venture Capital, commented: “Our fund is a financially focused, but we look to invest in startups that not only look for capital but also seek value driven by the team’s experience in Japan, Europe and the US.”
Hiroshi Takeuchi, partner and director at Mistui, said: “Magenta will also work on introducing benefits of cooperation with such LPs to maximise return on investments, expose LPs to innovation generated by our portfolio companies and also from our deal flow.”
Ran Levitzky, another partner, and veteran of Amdocs and Microsoft, said: “Israeli entrepreneurs have a clear understanding that building a significant company requires a variety of products that are marketed not only in the west but globally including the east and Japan in particular.”
Meanwhile, in support of the AI technologies, across enterprises of all sizes, the European Union’s €20 million AI4EU artificial intelligence (AI) project kicked off, with partners meeting in Barcelona last week.
The three-year AI4EU project brings together 79 research institutes and enterprises from 21 countries, led by French outfit Thales, to establish an open platform, available on-demand, for tech firms to access AI resources, including data repositories, computing power, tools and algorithms.
It will also provide ‘upskilling’ and reskilling courses. The AI4EU project team will work closely with the regions ‘digital innovation hubs’ for robotics and the future network of AI excellence centres to further facilitate access to AI technology.
In a joint statement, Andrus Ansip, vice president for the European Commission’s ‘digital single market’ programme, and Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for the digital economy and society, said: “Europe can only reap the full benefits of AI innovations if this technology is easily usable by all. The AI4EU project will help bring AI to small businesses, non-tech companies and public administrations across Europe.”
The European Commission is increasing its investment in AI research and innovation to €1.5 billion for the period 2018-2020, under the Horizon 2020 programme. Total public and private investments in the EU should reach at least €20 billion by the end of 2020.