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Israel Innovation Authority adds USD 115 million to support startups during COVID-19 crisis

The Fast Track program specifically aims to expedite the recovery of the high-tech sector.

Israel Tel Aviv skyline. Source: Shutterstock. Israel Tel Aviv skyline. Source: Shutterstock.

The Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), the government’s tech investment arm, has been allotted an additional budget of NIS 390 million (USD 115 million) to increase government investment in small and medium high-tech companies amid the coronavirus crisis.

The funding enables the authority to extend the application deadline for fast-track grants until November 19, 2020.

In April, the IIA launched a channel for fast-track grants, covering a total sum of NIS 500 million to small and medium high-tech companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A funding deposit of up to 50% of the approved grant would be provided to supplement complementary funding secured by the company, the IIA said at the time.

The Fast Track program aims to help expedite the recovery of the high-tech sector, IIA CEO Aharon Aharon said in a statement.

“The Authority is therefore supporting high-functioning companies which have a good chance of transcending the crisis but are currently facing difficulties in raising funds or making sales. We have substantially expanded the support mechanism for companies so that they can utilize our grants in order to maintain operations, and have taken it upon ourselves to guarantee that we complete the evaluation and decision-making process within four weeks,” he added.

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Through the Fast Track program, the IIA supports companies that are developing innovative products with significant value and a high probability of long-term success, but which currently have limited funding resources and are in need of immediate support, he said.

Aharon noted that the IIA modified its criteria for the program following increased demand in order to allow additional companies to submit their application. They also extended the application deadline.

“The incentive program’s grants will help these companies successfully traverse the current crisis and become part of the growth engine stimulating the Israeli economy as it overcomes this difficult period,” Aharon said.

This is the second fund announced by the Israel Innovation Authority to help support the local high-tech industry as it moves to recover from the effects of the global pandemic in recent months. The other focuses on “current challenges” by providing grants for new programs and models to broaden recruitment and to bolster skilled human capital in R&D. A budget of some NIS 20 million (USD 5.87 million) was allocated for the first year.

This article first appeared in NoCamels, which covers innovations from Israel for a global audience.