Tata to Invest $5 Mln in Israel University Technology Fund

Tata Industries Ltd. signed an agreement with Tel Aviv University to invest $5 million in a fund as the Mumbai-based company’s new chairman seeks to boost investment in innovation and technology.

Tata Industries is part of the $100 billion Tata Group, which spent more than $2 billion, or about 2 percent of group revenue, on research and development in 2012-2013, spokesman Mukund Rajan said April 26. Spending will probably increase, given Chairman Cyrus Mistry’s focus, he said.

“This is our first major investment in Israel,” Rameshwar Jamwal, an executive director at Tata Industries, said in a conference call from Mumbai today. “Israel has excellent technology capabilities and Tata is looking for innovation and R&D as a key area of focus and as a source of competitive advantage going forward.”

Israel is looking to increase exports to India and China as Europe, its primary market for goods, struggles with a debt crisis. Israeli exports, which make up about 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, declined an annualized 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter, after shrinking 8 percent in the third, data provided by the Jerusalem-based Central Bureau of Statistics shows.

Tata representatives will work with scientists to guide them with research and test out ideas, said Shlomo Nimrodi, chief executive officer of Ramot, the university’s technology transfer company. Ramot’s Technology Innovation Momentum Fund seeks to raise an additional $15 million from investors in the U.S., the U.K. and India, Nimrodi told reporters in Tel Aviv yesterday. Tata will be the lead investor, Nimrodi said.

“Tel Aviv University can be an extension to Tata’s R&D programs,” said Giora Yaron, Ramot’s chairman and chairman of the university’s executive council.

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