French government investment bank Bpifrance has joined the new fund being raised by Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP). The investment is Bpifrance's first in an Israeli venture capital fund. The $200 million fund being raised by JVP is its eighth in the US capital market. The exact amount of Bpifrance investment was not disclosed, but in view of the profile of its investments, it is undoubtedly sizeable.
Bpifrance is one of the largest government investment groups in Europe, with activity in the tens of billions of euros. French President Emmanuel Macron decided to expand BPI France's venture capital activity, which currently amounts to €1.3 billion. When serving as Minister of Economy and Industry in 2014, Macron announced that the French government would invest €10 billion in innovation and research in 2015-2017, but only €4 billion was actually invested in these areas. Bpifrance manages five investment funds of tens to hundreds of millions of euros each. The funds invested in 18 ventures in the first quarter of 2018, making the group the most active investor in France during this period.
Bpifrance has been investing in Israel for several years already in cooperation with the Israel Innovation Authority and other agencies and has also invested in several ventures directly. Bpifrance CEO Nicolas Dufourcq posted on his Twitter account, "I am very glad to invest in the new JVP venture capital fund with Erel Margalit and Fiona Darmon. Let us build an aspiring partnership for open innovation between our two ecosystems."
Bpifrance's investment in JVP follows a series of investments by French companies to date in JVP portfolio companies including Publicis, La Maison, Orange Groupe, and others. In February 2018, JVP announced that it was a raising a new fund, JVP VIII, and reached its $160 million target in less than four months. Following surplus demand from international investors, JVP decided to increase the fund to $200 million. JVP, one of Israel's leading funds in high-tech and global innovation, was recently rated by the Preqin research company as one of the world's six best venture capital funds. JVP has raised $1.3 billion and invested in over 120 companies since it was founded in 1993.
Bpifrance was founded in 2012. Other than its function as an industrial investment bank, it is also used by the French government to promote innovation and research, after Macron declared that France would be Europe's "startup nation." Macron has taken a number of measures aimed at promoting innovation in France and positioning it as a leader in entrepreneurship. Among other things, these measures included less stringent terms for visas for entrepreneurs and employees in companies and startups, tax reform, acceleration of innovation centers, and investments and financing for French technology companies. It is believed that this vision includes an emphasis on fostering international cooperation with focuses of international innovation, including with Israel through JVP.
JVP's activity in the French theater has expanded since Marcon became president. Macron's connect with Margalit was forged earlier when Macron was a banker at Rothschild Bank. Margalit, Darmon, and Yoav Tzruya have been on the Jerusalem-Paris axis for some time, with Dufourcq visiting Israel three times. The two sides are strategic cooperation between Israeli startups and leading companies in the French market. JVP representatives recently also met with French Secretary of State for digital affairs Mounir Mahjoubi in order to devise packages of incentives and benefits for Israeli startups.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 29, 2018
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