Schnader Sponsors Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic 3rd Annual Angel Capital Expo

By Elliot Dater

Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis is a sponsor of the Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic 3rd Annual Angel Capital Expo. Keiretsu Forum is the world’s largest angel investor network. Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic has chapters in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C.  Schnader’s Pittsburgh office is the host sponsor of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic.

The 3rd Annual Angel Capital Expo will feature 12 pre-screened and vetted presenting companies, six early-stage fast pitch presentations from technology transfer offices and college and university students, and an opportunity to network with up to 250 attendees including over 100 accredited investors. The presenting regular forum entry company that receives the highest level of votes from attendees will receive a prize of $100,000. The top early-stage company will receive $50,000 in investment and services.

What does this have to do with Pittsburgh and Israel? First, our Pittsburgh office is a sponsor of the Expo and a number of Keiretsu members will be attending the Expo. Second, Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic has had a number of Israeli companies present at their regular monthly meetings over the last two years.

Last but not least, Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic and Schnader Harrison are planning on having one meeting per year in Pittsburgh exclusively for presentations by Israeli companies looking to raise equity from angel investors. The companies will be carefully screened for their stage of development and potential investor interest and will present to an audience of interested accredited investors. We look forward to hosting this annual Israeli deal flow event in Pittsburgh and working to further business ties between Pittsburgh and Israel.

I will be back to report after the Expo and also to discuss some other exciting initiatives that are in there early stages to bring more Israeli technology companies to Pittsburgh.

Connecting University of Pittsburgh Graduate Students with Israeli Innovation

By Elliot Dater

I am currently in Israel with the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business Israel Global Research Practicum, which I am co-teaching with Professor Paul Harper, PhD. We are joined by Jacqueline Saslawski, Esq., PMIA, managing director of the Katz International Business Center. Fifteen graduate students are taking part in the practicum, including students from the Katz MBA program, the School of Law and the School of Engineering.

In this course, we are focusing on Israel as a center of global innovation.  We combine the academic study of entrepreneurship and the study of the factors that have helped Israel become a leading center for technology innovation.  In addition to the study of entrepreneurship, we are looking at industries where recent innovation is playing a significant role in both Pittsburgh and Israel, namely energy.  We believe that the development of the Marcellus Shale in Southwestern Pennsylvania and the offshore gas reserves in the Mediterranean provide overlapping fields of entrepreneurship and innovation that connect Israel and Pittsburgh.

After landing in Tel Aviv Saturday afternoon, we kicked off the visit with a festive welcome dinner featuring Katz alumna, Shahar Caro Herling, Adv., LLM, who is in the legal department of Afcon Holdings, and Ilan Cohn, senior partner at the Reinhold Cohn Group, Israel’s leading intellectual property firm.

Today was the first day of our one-week visit to Israel during which our students have a full schedule of meetings with Israeli innovators, investors, and leading academic institutions.  Today’s meetings ranged from IBR – Israeli Biotechnology Research Ltd., a small privately held company that develops, produces and sells natural, non-toxic active ingredients for the cosmetics, food and nutraceutical industries, to Elbit Systems, Ltd., Israel’s largest non-governmental defense electronics company, to Clal Biotechnology Industries, Ltd., Israel’s largest investment fund devoted to life sciences and drug discovery.

I was happy to be able to connect these companies with our students and have their representatives interact and share experiences.

Ruben Krupick, CEO of Clal Biotechnology Industries also shared his experiences in creating and managing Rafael Development Corporation, which was founded with the purpose of commercializing military technologies developed by Rafael Armaments for the civilian market. This was especially interesting for our students as they had studied Rafael Development Corporation and this gave them the opportunity to hear more about the history of that company straight from its founder.

Our students will have the opportunity to meet and learn about more Israeli innovation throughout this week.  Hopefully, these meetings will provide our students with good ideas for the final projects they will be working on in a few weeks.  The final project for this class will be innovative in and of itself, but more on that later.

Elliot Dater is a partner in Schnader’s Business Services Department,  and represents Israeli companies doing business in the United States and U.S. companies and investors doing business in Israel, as well as emerging growth companies in the technology and medical device industries

The materials posted on Schnader.com and SchnaderPittIsrael.com are prepared for informational purposes only and should not be considered as providing legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship. Please see our disclaimer page for a full explanation.

Recent Pittsburgh-Israel crossovers

By Elliot Dater

Although the blog has been quiet the last couple of months, many exciting things have been happening.

In November, I had the opportunity to teach Law & Entrepreneurship to law students at the College of Law and Business in Ramat Gan, Israel. Through this course, I taught my students about the legal issues involved in guiding a technology start-up through its life cycle – from idea to an exit. Given the fact that Israel is known as “Start-up Nation” or the “Silicon Wadi,” the students had great familiarity with start-ups in general and were enthusiastic and engaged in learning about the legal issues for these types of companies in the United States. The students were especially interested when I discussed Israeli companies that had success in Pittsburgh, such as dbMotion. Their final project was to prepare a client memorandum in English.  I was pleasantly surprised at both the level of analysis and application of the law, as well the level of writing, given that English was the second (or third) language of most students.  I hope to repeat this experience and further strengthen ties between the College of Law and Business and the University of Pittsburgh Law School.

In December, UPMC and Schnader sponsored a Pittsburgh visit by the Israeli Medical Device and Life Sciences Road Show at UPMC’s Center for Connected Medicine. The Road Show featured six Israeli medical device and life sciences companies from Israel’s incubator system.

  • Agam Biological has developed products based on jelly fish-derived collagens for a wide range of medical, nutritional and cosmetic applications.
  • Discover Medical Devices has developed a medical necessity sleep mask for patients that have both sleep apnea and heart failure.
  • Inovytec has developed a non-invasive life saving solution to increase survivability of patients suffering cardiac or respiratory emergencies in out of hospital environments.
  • Premia Spine has developed a motion implement intended to replace traditional spinal fusion surgery for patients with spinal stenosis other lower back maladies.
  • Bio GenCell is developing a technology platform for automated production of patient specific stem cell based therapies.
  • TenCure is developing revolutionary cancer therapies based on a newly described mechanism of action .

These companies presented their innovative technologies and products to a room full of local investors as well as visiting investors from Cincinnati and Cleveland. Local participants included the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, Innovation Works, Mutual Capital Partners Funds, Woodland Family Partners, FCC Capital, Blue Tree Allied Angel Investors, Draper Triangle Ventures, UPMC’s Center for Innovation in Regenerative Medicine as well as representatives of local and state government.  We hope that this is the first of many of this type of events that will provide opportunities to link Israel and Pittsburgh on a business basis.  There is already talk of a future Healthcare IT Roadshow.  Stay tuned.

Elliot Dater is a partner in Schnader’s Business Services Department,  and represents Israeli companies doing business in the United States and U.S. companies and investors doing business in Israel, as well as emerging growth companies in the technology and medical device industries

The materials posted on Schnader.com and SchnaderPittIsrael.com are prepared for informational purposes only and should not be considered as providing legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship. Please see our disclaimer page for a full explanation.

Bringing Pittsburgh to Israel

By Elliot Dater

Hello from Israel!

A few months ago, I was asked to teach Law & Entrepreneurship at the College of Law and Business in Ramat Gan. This course, which I first developed with my colleague, Justine Kasznica Thornton, teaches students about the legal issues encountered by technology companies throughout their life cycle. My students are second, third and fourth year law students and they are very enthusiastic. I’ll only be here a week but I’m happy to be bringing a little Pittsburgh perspective to my Israeli students!

Teaching my first class at the College of Law and Business was a great experience. The students were attentive and interested in the subject matter. Even while being lectured to in a foreign language (English), they asked good questions and created an engaging dialogue. I am looking forward to the rest of the week, especially since I now know how to find the College without getting lost. Driving in circles can be a typical driving experience here, even if you’ve lived here! There was even heavy rain and thunderstorms last night, which is a good thing for this time of year.

I went for a walk on the boardwalk early this morning and could only marvel at the number of people out running, biking and walking. The bike paths, as well as bike rental stores, have really developed in Tel Aviv over the last few years. It reminded me of the community development we’ve been seeing in Pittsburgh during the same time.

I look forward to keeping you posted with more from my week in Israel.

Elliot Dater is a partner in Schnader’s Business Services Department,  and represents Israeli companies doing business in the United States and U.S. companies and investors doing business in Israel, as well as emerging growth companies in the technology and medical device industries

The materials posted on Schnader.com and SchnaderPittIsrael.com are prepared for informational purposes only and should not be considered as providing legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship. Please see our disclaimer page for a full explanation.

Forbes Magazine profiles unique U.S., Israeli and Palestinian business relationships

By Elliot Dater

While not directly Pittsburgh related, I’d like to share with you Forbes magazine’s  “Peace Through Profits? Inside The Secret Tech Ventures That Are Reshaping The Israeli-Arab-Palestinian World.” The article discusses exciting developments involving U.S., Israeli and Palestinian technology companies and investors. I hope you enjoy this insight into a unique business relationship in the region and find the developments spotlighted encouraging.

Elliot Dater is a partner in Schnader’s Business Services Department,  and represents Israeli companies doing business in the United States and U.S. companies and investors doing business in Israel, as well as emerging growth companies in the technology and medical device industries

The materials posted on Schnader.com and SchnaderPittIsrael.com are prepared for informational purposes only and should not be considered as providing legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship. Please see our disclaimer page for a full explanation.

Alternative Energy Developments in Israel and Pittsburgh

By Elliot Dater

In my last post, I discussed the revolution in natural gas exploration and production in Israel and Pittsburgh. That revolution is a game changer for the economies of both regions, each in their own way.  However, natural gas is not the end of the story. In fact, prior to the discovery of deep-sea natural gas reserves off of its coast, Israel was well known for the development of alternative energy technologies, due to limited natural resources and the desire to reduce dependence on foreign sources of petroleum products and coal. Those technologies included solar, geothermal, solar, wind and electric car battery technologies.

Anyone who has spent time in Israel, especially in the Arava or Negev deserts understands that the sun is Israel’s most abundant natural resource.  However, while solar energy has been used as the primary energy source for hot water heating in residential Israel for decades, until the last few years, there was almost no development of actual solar power production.

This situation is slowly changing.  Arava Power, an Israeli company out of Kibbutz Ketura, led by Yosef Abramowitz and backed by Siemens and other investors, has a 4.9 megawatt solar energy field up and running, with a number of others under construction and many more planned over the next few years in Israel. The Israeli National Technology and Renewable Energy Center, located on Kibbutz Yotvata, last year inaugurated a new facility for testing developments in solar panels.

According to a recent interview of Eitan Parnass, CEO of the Renewable Energy Association of Israel, there are 20 solar energy plants located in the Negev and the Israeli Electricity Authority has approved 2,400 megawatts of solar production, which should be achieved by 2020. Solar power production is growing and on its way in Israel.

But solar power is not the end of the story.  Ormat Technologies, Inc., (NYSE:  ORA) is a leading geothermal power plant producer. Better Place, a developer and manufacturer of a revolutionary battery exchange concept for powering electric cars made huge headlines over the years and raised approximately $850 million in investment. Better Place recently went into liquidation in Israel and it looked like its concept failed.  However, a group led by none other than Yosef Abramowitz recently purchased the assets of Better Place out of liquidation and will go on to develop the Better Place business in Israel and then grow it organically, or at least that is the plan. Finally, Israel also is developing wind power, with wind farms already operating in the Golan Heights and new farms approved for a Druze village in the Upper Galilee and elsewhere in Northern Israel.

Now you’re probably thinking, “Ok, this is the Pittsburgh-Israel Business Report, where’s the Pittsburgh part of the alternative energy story?”

As I have written before, it is difficult to mistake Pittsburgh for Israel.  It is especially difficult, if not impossible to confuse Pittsburgh with the Arava Desert.  So there is no way Pittsburgh can be involved in solar energy, right?  Well, I thought so too, but I was wrong.   According to the city’s Green Pittsburgh web page, Pittsburgh is only one of 25 U.S. cities to be named a Solar America City through the Department of Energy. Pittsburgh’s plan is to conduct a series of solar site assessment with Sandia National Labs to identify the best locations for solar installations and to review existing city regulations in order to determine how to best foster the growth of solar energy installations in Pittsburgh. A large number of solar installers are active in Southwestern Pennsylvania installing solar projects for residential and commercial customers, while a smaller number of companies are involved in developing new solar technologies.

Pittsburgh is also the home to innovators in the biofuels industry.  Steel City Biofuels is a non-profit organization that develops and implements biofuels education, including through building a demonstration-scale biodiesel plant. Steel City Biofuels also is involved in researching the performance and emissions benefits of biodiesel fuels as well as advocacy of policies to promote the production and use of biofuels.  Fossil Free Fuel creates biodiesel from recycled restaurant (and other) cooking oil. Fossil Free Fuel has also been involved in retro-fitting vehicles to run on its recycled biodiesel.

Pittsburgh has significant activity in the wind power industry.  Ever Power is a wind energy company headquartered in the city, with two wind farms in Cambria County and a third underway in Somerset County.  Windstax Wind Power Systems recently announced that it moved into a 10,000 square foot industrial and office building downtown. Windstax develops and manufactures uniquely designed vertical, self-contained wind turbines that capture and store electricity. One of their systems in installed on Smallman Street in the Strip District.

Aquion Energy, also located in Pittsburgh, is developing an innovative battery for storage of electricity generated in power plants. Aquion’s battery uses sustainable materials, does not use toxic or hazardous materials and therefore at the end of its life, is also recyclable and landfill safe.

Of course there is more going on in alternative energy in both Israel and Pittsburgh than I can do justice to in one blog post.  The point is that while natural gas is getting most of the attention in both places, there are plenty of people still working on long-term, sustainable answers to the world’s energy future in Pittsburgh and Israel.  Taken together with natural gas, or even without it, these are exciting energy developments.

Elliot Dater is a partner in Schnader’s Business Services Department,  and represents Israeli companies doing business in the United States and U.S. companies and investors doing business in Israel, as well as emerging growth companies in the technology and medical device industries

The materials posted on Schnader.com and SchnaderPittIsrael.com are prepared for informational purposes only and should not be considered as providing legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship. Please see our disclaimer page for a full explanation.

 

An Energy Future for Pittsburgh and Israel

By Elliot Dater

Pittsburgh and Israel are on the verge of, if not already in the middle of, becoming energy titans. For years, Israel was known for innovation in solar technologies, water technologies and other alternative energy and conservation initiatives due to a lack of natural resources. Pittsburgh was one of the early oil-producing states in the U.S. from the 1800s to early 1900s. Now both are in the middle of a natural gas revolution: Israel with tremendous offshore reserves and Western Pennsylvania with Marcellus Shale.

Estimates of the major gas reserves off the coast of Israel, in the Leviathan, Tamar and Tanin fields, run as high as 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. While those estimates are dwarfed by the size of the Marcellus Share reserves (estimated to be between 141 trillion and 400 trillion cubic feet), they are sizable nonetheless, potentially ensuring Israel’s energy independence for generations to come. The only debate is whether, and how much of, the offshore natural gas should be sold for export. Moreover, the petrochemical manufacturing potential that results from a thriving natural gas pipeline is a potential game changer for the economies in Israel and Western Pennsylvania.

Major international players are involved in Israel’s offshore gas play. For example, Noble Energy is a partner in the Leviathan exploration and Gazprom has signed a deal to purchase liquefied natural gas from Israel. The players in the Marcellus Shale are also some of the leading companies in U.S. natural gas exploration, such as Range Resources, Shell, Talisman Energy, Chevron and many others.

Local experts in entrepreneurship and innovation are taking notice. For example, last spring, Professor Paul Harper’s class at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh focused on the development of Israel’s natural gas resources and took note of the potential synergies with what is happening with natural gas exploration and development in Western Pennsylvania.

Not a fan of natural gas drilling, whether it is deep-sea drilling or shale fracking? Natural gas is not the only thing happening in energy in Israel and Pittsburgh. My next article will discuss developments in alternative energy in both markets.

Elliot Dater is a partner in Schnader’s Business Services Department,  and represents Israeli companies doing business in the United States and U.S. companies and investors doing business in Israel, as well as emerging growth companies in the technology and medical device industries

The materials posted on Schnader.com and SchnaderPittIsrael.com are prepared for informational purposes only and should not be considered as providing legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship. Please see our disclaimer page for a full explanation.