Marc’s Biotech Tour of Israel
My Biotech VIP Tour of Israel in April and May of 2013 was a huge success. Not only did we see some great investment opportunities, tour amazing sites and meet with one of the most influential people in the country, but one of our members’ lives was saved based on something he learned there.
Israel’s economy is booming. Gleaming new office towers and apartment buildings are everywhere in Tel Aviv. Construction is certainly an important part of the economy, but the real driver is technology and biotech.
Israeli government policy encourages entrepreneurs. In some cases, it even lends them money to get started, without taking an equity stake. Patents on technology developed in the army stay with the inventor, not the military. So after military service is over, the inventor can commercialize his or her patent, which many do.
We met with some of Israel’s most exciting companies and entrepreneurs, including Evogene (NYSE: EVGN) and Compugen (Nasdaq: CGEN).
After a day of touring Tel Aviv and Jaffa, the latter of which is 7,500 years old, our first day of “work” was started with a presentation by Dr. Yuval Avni, M.D., a partner with venture capital firm Giza Ventures. He discussed why Israel is such a dynamic place to invest and addressed its entrepreneurial and technological culture.
David Warshawski, president and CEO of LifeMap Sciences, gave a fascinating presentation on his company, as well as the world’s largest database of genes that it is creating for scientists to conduct research. LifeMap is 70% owned by BioTime(NYSE: BTX).
After lunch, we visited the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and Ofer Mizrahi Diamonds at the Israel Diamond Exchange – a fortress like building housing dozens of diamond companies. The security there was tougher than at the airport.
While at Ofer, we learned about its process of obtaining, cutting and polishing the stones. We each held hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of diamonds in our hands.
The following morning, we met with Ofer Haviv, CEO of Evogene. The company develops genomics to try to feed the world. For example, it can isolate genes that will make a plant more resistant to pests, which will increase crop yield. At the time, the stock was only listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, but has since listed on the Nasdaq.
Later that day, we traveled to the Yeda Research and Development Company, the commercial arm of the famed Weizmann Institute of Science.
We were up early to get on the bus the next morning to travel to the ancient city of Caesarea, which was built by King Herod over 2,000 years ago. During lunch, Greg Wolf, an American living in Israel who successfully started the ubiquitous Israeli coffee chain Greg CafÃ©, talked about his newest venture.
After our meal, we visited with Itamar Medical Company, an emerging leader in heart healthcare. It was there that a Member on our tour discovered information that saved his life.
The gentleman volunteered to be the “guinea pig” for a demonstration of a device that reads how open and flexible the arteries are. Later that year, the Member suffered a stroke, but relayed the information he learned about himself during his time at Itamar to doctors who were treating him. He reported to us months later that the information gleaned at Itamar saved his life.
Next, it was time for some relaxation and touring. We traveled up to the Golan Heights, just 20 miles from the Syrian border. There, we had a fantastic lunch at the Golan Heights Winery.
Finally, it was time to head to Jerusalem, where we stayed at the exquisite Mamilla Hotel. After spending a couple of days touring Jerusalem and Bethlehem, it was time to get back to “work.”
Our final day of seminars was kicked off by Oxford Club Member Dr. Michael Feinerman, who described what life was like in Israel for a working physician.
And then we met arguably the most powerful person in Israel. Dr. Karnit Flug, at the time, was the deputy governor of the Bank of Israel. A few months later, she became the governor. She is the Israeli equivalent to the United States’ Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen.
She discussed the Israeli economy, and then was quickly whisked away in a motorcade.
Afterward, we were treated to presentations from Compugen Chairman Martin Gerstel, Israeli energy expert, author and professor Mordechai Ben-Menachem, Ben Weiss of private equity firm iNetworks Limited and Nimrod Vronen, an attorney representing private equity firms.
The grand finale was a luncheon at the historic Jerusalem home of Compugen’s Martin Gerstel, where many of the other speakers whom we had met on the trip were also in attendance – giving our Members the chance to chat and ask questions in a relaxed and luxurious atmosphere.
Now that the “work” was done, many of us stayed on to head to Jordan where we explored Petra and the Red Sea resort Aqaba.
During the two weeks of the tour, we dined at incredible restaurants, stayed at beautiful hotels, met amazingly smart business people who are passionate about their companies and found some great investment opportunities.
I’m looking forward to the next trip to Israel as there will no doubt be a slew of new companies and potential moneymaking ideas.
Meet Our Israel Investment Research Experts
Chief Income Strategist, The Oxford Club; Senior Editor, The Oxford Income Letter; Editor, Oxford Systems Trader, Dividend Multiplier and Lightning Trend Trader and Host of the Get Rich With Dividends Radio Show
Marc’s investment career started out at the trading desk of Carlin Equities in San Francisco, California, where he executed dozens of trades each day for his clients. Throughout his career, Marc has outperformed the S&P 500 and the S&P Healthcare Index by a wide margin. As a senior analyst with Avalon Research Group, his “Buy” recommendations gained 17.8% versus the S&P 500â€²s 5.9%. While there, Marc started and headed the technical research products division, in addition to his fundamental duties.
Marc also looked at the market with a journalist’s skeptical eye as a columnist for TheStreet.com, where he broke several stories on companies in the biotech sector. His contrarian recommendations (including shorts) gained 12.6% annualized versus the S&P 500â€²s gain of 0.5%. Marc has been published in the online version of The Wall Street Journal and TheStreet.com, and was featured on NPR’s “The Story.”
This was Marc’s fourth visit to Israel.
Dr. Yuval Avni, M.D.
Partner, Giza Venture Capital
Contact: Vered Digmy, Director, Investor Relations
Telephone: + 972.3.640.2336; Facsimile: + 972.3.640.2319; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yuval Avni, M.D., is a partner in Giza Venture Capital, which focuses on healthcare and cleantech.
Dr. Avni, a medical practitioner, joined Giza in 2008 after completing two years of a general surgery internship that focused on vascular surgery. Dr. Avni is a trained medical doctor with four years of clinical experience in general surgery and vascular surgery. He has conducted clinical research in the areas of human genetics, general surgery and vascular surgery.
Dr. Avni received his medical training at the Technion, and holds a bachelor’s degree (with honors) in medical science from the Technion.
Dr. Avni serves as an airborne rescue and evacuation physician in the Israel Air Force (Reserves) and a consultant on new technologies to the IAF chief medical officer. Prior to his medical studies, he served for five years in the Israel Defense Forces as an officer in an elite intelligence unit.
Dr. Avni has led and co-led investments in TaKaDu, VisionCare, Navotek and LifeBond. He is a member of the boards of directors of four Giza portfolio companies – Navotek, IceCure, VisionCare and LifeBond. He is also a venture partner at Giza Polish Ventures.
Eyal Niv is a managing director of the management company. Eyal joined Giza in 2000 and was promoted to managing director in 2006.
Eyal focuses on investments in Internet/mobile as well as communications and semiconductors. Formerly, Eyal worked as a financial analyst at Giza Financial Advisory where he focused on economic evaluations and M&A. Prior to that, he co-founded Super Computers, a firm specializing in software applications for medical research centers, where he was responsible for system analysis and implementation of large databases. Eyal holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree in corporate finance from the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Eyal has led and co-led investments in XtremIO, Oplus (acquired by Intel), Odysii, AdExtent, Lucid and Altair. Eyal is a member of the boards of directors of four Giza portfolio companies – Lucid, WinBuyer, AdExtent and Flash Networks – and an additional three Ofek seed companies.
Head of the Research unit at the Economic Department of TASE.
Contact: Shira Ben Aharon, Visitors Center Manager, Tel Aviv Stock Exchange
Telephone: +972.3.5677573; Mobile: +972.54.2018622; Facsimile: +972.3.5601811
Kobi Avramov was born in 1956. He joined the TASE staff in 1987 as an assistant to the then CEO Yosef Nitzani, and was appointed to his current position in 1991.
Prior to joining TASE, he served five years as an economist in the securities department at Bank Leumi and Ofek Securities and Investment.
Kobi Avramov obtained his B.A. in economics in 1982 at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an MBA, specialization in finance, at Tel Aviv University in 1985.
General Manager, Ofer Mizrahi Diamonds Inc.
Address: 29 E. Madison St., Suite 1116, Chicago, IL 60602 USA
Telephone Direct: +312.256.8366; Telephone Main: +312.558.9060 ext. 8366
Mr. Ofer Haviv
President and CEO, Evogene
Contact: Liat Cinamon or Chen Anmut, Director of IR & PR, Evogene Ltd.
Address: 13 Gad Feinstein St. P.O. Box 2100, Rehovot 76121, Israel
Telephone: +972.8.9311933/00; Mobile: +972.54.9794538; Facsimile: +972.8.9466724
Prior to being named CEO of Evogene in late 2004, Mr. Haviv held the positions of company COO and CFO from 2002 to 2004. He was also involved in Evogene’s spinoff from Compugen, where he held the position of director of finance and treasurer for four years. During this time, the company completed two private placements and an IPO on the Nasdaq.
Earlier, Mr. Haviv was the CFO of Klei Zemmer. He was also an auditor with a leading accounting firm belonging to a network of the “Big Five.”
Mr. Haviv holds a B.A. degree in economics and accounting from the Faculty of Management, Tel Aviv University, and is a certified public accountant in Israel.
Mr. Assaf Kacen, Executive VP – Technology Platform Evogene, is responsible for the technology platform at Evogene, which includes 11 units. These units include bioinformatics, information management, IT, molecular biology, tissue culture and plant transformation units, as well as the plant growth, seed bank and seed production units.
Prior to joining Evogene, Mr. Kacen was product manager at Nokia Siemens Networks (2008 to 2009). He has substantial R&D management experience leading Lateral Software Groups with multiple teams of engineers (2004 to 2008). He implemented advanced development procedures and management methods with proven results.
Mr. Kacen served in the Israeli Air Force, where he held a variety of command and management positions.
Mr. Kacen holds an MBA from the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, with a specialization in finance and a Bachelor of Science in communication systems engineering from Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel.
Adv. Gil Granot-Mayer
General Counsel, Yeda
Address: P.O. Box 95, Rehovot 76100, Israel
Telephone: +372.8.947.0617; Facsimile: +972.8.947.0739
Contact: Julie Sigura
Gil Granot-Mayer holds an MBA degree from the Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration and a bachelor’s degree in law from Tel Aviv University. Prior to joining Yeda, Mr. Granot-Mayer worked for private law firms specializing in intellectual property, cyberspace law, e-commerce, banking and commerce litigation.
Amir Naiberg, CEO, Yeda, was appointed as CEO of Yeda in 2006. Yeda is ranked as one of the top three technology transfer organizations in the world, and its best-known business partners include Teva, Merck Serono, BMS, Abbott, Baxter, Biolex, News Group, Xennex, Lilly (Imclone), as well as many startup companies.
Amir works closely with various branches of the Israeli administration, including the Knesset, serves on several boards of directors and is one of the founders of Israel Technology Transfer Organization.
Prior to his appointment as Yeda’s CEO, Amir served as Yeda’s general counsel for six years and worked for a private law firm specializing in intellectual property, privacy and cyberspace law.
Amir Naiberg holds a Master of Law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in law from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is a graduate of the Merage Foundation Israeli Executive Leadership Program.
Dr. Dov Rubin
CEO, Itamar Medical
The Leader in Ambulatory Sleep Testing and Vascular Health
Address: 9 Halamish St., North Industrial Park, Caesarea
Dr. Dov Rubin is president and CEO of Itamar Medical Ltd., a company developing state-of-the-art biomedical products involved in non-invasive, early detection of heart disease and obstructive sleep apnea.
He was a pioneer in the development of the first transcutaneous oxygen sensor, as well as the first microprocessor-based patient ventilator with Puritan Bennett.
Dov was a co-founder of NDS, which he started in 1988 along with News Corporation’s Rupert Murdoch. The company joined the Nasdaq in 1996, and was subsequently acquired by Cisco in 2012.
NDS is still the leading supplier of open conditional access software for the secure delivery of entertainment to digital TVs to over 140 million viewers worldwide, including such customers as DirecTV (U.S.), Sky Television (U.K.) Cablevision and Israeli customers such as HOT and Yes.
Dr. Rubin has a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Southern California, a Master of Science from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor of Science from the Jerusalem College of Technology in Electro-Optics and Applied Physics.
The Bank of Israel
Dr. Karnit Flug
Deputy Governor, Bank of Israel
Contact: Moran Harush Levi, Deputy Governor’s office, Bank of Israel
Telephone: +972.2.6552761; Facsimile: +972.2.6552107
Israel’s Central Bank has done a fantastic job navigating the financial crisis. What’s more, it hasn’t suffered any mortgage meltdowns like many other modern economies. All this and more is why it’s such an incredible honor to have Dr. Karnit Flug – deputy governor of the Bank of Israel – join us as a very special guest.
Dr. Karnit Flug has been the deputy governor of the Bank of Israel since July 2011. She was appointed as deputy governor by the Israeli government with the recommendation of Stanley Fischer – governor of the Bank of Israel and widely regarded as one of the best heads of a central bank in the world.
In 1984, Dr. Flug joined the International Monetary Fund as an economist. In 1988, she returned to Israel and joined the research department of the Bank of Israel, where she worked and published papers on topics related to the labor market, balance of payments and macroeconomic policies.
From 1994 to 1996, while on leave from the Bank of Israel, Dr. Flug worked at the Inter-American Development Bank as a senior research economist.
In 1997, upon return to the Bank of Israel, she was appointed assistant director of the research department. In June 2001, she was appointed director of the research department and a member of the Bank of Israel’s senior management.
Dr. Flug has served on a number of public committees, including the committee on a multiyear defense budget (the “Brodet” committee). Currently, she serves on several public committees, including the committee aimed at ensuring the long-term financial stability of the National Insurance Institute, the committee aimed at enhancing competition within the Israeli markets, the committee for social and economic change (the “Trajtenberg” committee) and several others.
Dr. Flug completed her Master of Arts (cum laude) at the Hebrew University in 1980 and her Ph.D. in economics at Columbia University in 1985.
Martin S. Gerstel
Chairman of the Board
Israel Headquarters Compugen, Ltd.
Address: 72 Pinchas Rosen St., Tel Aviv, Israel 69512
Telephone: +972.3.765.8585; Facsimile: +972.3.765.8555
Martin S. Gerstel has served as Compugen’s chairman of the board of directors since 1997, other than from January 2009 to March 2010, when he served as either CEO or co-CEO and, in both cases, as a member of the board of directors.
Prior to Compugen, Mr. Gerstel was co-chairman and CEO of ALZA Corporation, which he helped found in 1968.
Mr. Gerstel is the chairman of Evogene Ltd., Keddem Bioscience and Mada Ltd., the co-founder and co-chairman of Itamar Medical, and serves as a director of Yissum Ltd., Yeda Ltd. and the Foundation for the U.S. National Medals of Science and Technology.
He is a member of the board of governors and the executive committee of the Weizmann Institute of Science and the board of governors of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is also an advisor to the Burrill Life Science Funds and the board of the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation.
Mr. Gerstel holds a Bachelor of Science from Yale University and an MBA from Stanford University.
Anat Cohen-Dayag, Ph.D., joined Compugen in 2002, and has held the positions of director of diagnostics, VP of diagnostic biomarkers and drug targets and VP of research and development. In 2009, Dr. Cohen-Dayag was appointed, together with Mr. Martin Gerstel, as co-CEO of Compugen and then, in 2010, Dr. Cohen-Dayag was appointed Compugen president and CEO.
Prior to joining Compugen, she was head of R&D and a member of the executive management at Mindsense Biosystems.
Dr. Cohen-Dayag holds a B.S. in biology from Ben-Gurion University, and an M.S. in chemical immunology and a Ph.D. in cellular biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition, Dr. Cohen-Dayag is an external director of Ramot at Tel Aviv University Ltd.
Ben Weiss, Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Law (University of New South Wales), CFA, Grad. Dip. Leg. Prac., has 13 years of experience working globally in investment banking, asset management, private equity and corporate law (Salomon Smith Barney, Macquarie Bank, Shinsei Bank, AXA and CLSA).
He manages two venture capital funds with 65 investors across Asia and the United States (iNetworks and Heliant Ventures). He is also a columnist for Dow Jones Newswires under the column “Eye on Asia.”
Associate with Yigal Arnon & Co. Law Firm
Nimrod Vromen’s practice focuses on representation of publicly traded companies in Israel and abroad, and on representation of technology companies and Israeli and foreign venture capital funds, with an emphasis on private financings involving both established and emerging companies, corporate partnerships, strategic investors and joint ventures.
He is also experienced in venture lending, mergers and acquisitions, and other general corporate and commercial matters. Nimrod received his Bachelor of Law at Tel Aviv University in 2008, where he also studied business management. Nimrod was admitted to the Israel Bar in 2009 and is fluent in English and Hebrew.
Michael B. Feinerman, M.D.
Mobile: +0523.863.997; Home Telephone: +972.2.9931.017
Dr. Feinerman was born and raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and holds a B.A. from Yeshiva University, NYC, and a M.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NYC.
In the late ‘60s, he was captain of the U.S. Army Medical Corps and worked at Valley Forge Army Hospital, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, and was a battalion surgeon in the 25th Division, Vietnam.
In 1973, he completed training in plastic surgery and started a private practice in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1985, he went to Israel and opened a private practice in Jerusalem.
055-2259763; Mail: email@example.com; Skype: qualitymbm
Professor Ben-Menachem is a scientist, technologist, author and former researcher/lecturer at Ben-Gurion University, with professional interests in areas of systems/software engineering and project management. He has been active for four decades in these areas as a practitioner, consultant, lecturer and researcher.
He is also an Oxford Club Chairman’s Circle Member, and was a guest speaker at a conference in 1998. His writings include some 40-plus books in engineering, history, fiction and poetry, and several hundred papers in professional areas such as engineering, management, economics, accounting, reviews and history. He says, “My fiction books mostly deal with magic – I have a ‘Dragon series’ and a ‘Gryphon series’ of books. Magic is fun! Love is magic.”
David Warshawsky, Ph.D.
President and CEO
David Warshawsky, Ph.D., is a co-founder of LifeMap Sciences. Dr. Warshawsky also founded Xennex Inc. in 2003. He brings more than 20 years of experience in cutting-edge biomedical research and in the development, implementation and management of business operations in the biotech, pharmaceutical and bioinformatics industries. He has founded and/or served in leadership management roles at companies engaged in the development of life sciences databases, pharmaceutical products, or investments in the life sciences industry.
Dr. Warshawsky was also a founder of Avraham Pharmaceuticals, an emerging pharmaceutical company developing novel drugs for the treatment and/or prevention of neurodegenerative disorders. The company’s lead product candidate is in Phase 2 trials for Alzheimer’s disease. He also founded and serves as director of Varinel Inc., which is developing iron chelators and multifunctional drugs for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, wound infections and other diseases.
Dr. Warshawsky was vice president of business development at Paramount Biosciences, a global pharmaceutical development and healthcare investment firm. He established and led Paramount’s Boston office, and identified and licensed multiple product candidates in various stages of development, forming new companies in various therapeutic areas. He was also director of business development worldwide, novel genomics division, at Compugen, an Israeli company that traded on the Nasdaq, and a licensing associate at the University of Massachusetts, office of commercial ventures and intellectual property.
Prior to moving into the business world, Dr. Warshawsky was engaged in academic research in the life sciences. From 1996 to 1999, he was a research fellow at Harvard and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Warshawsky earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology in 1995 from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his B.S. in biology from Tel Aviv University in 1991.