US investors seek out Israeli medical technology

“We use a team approach,” Jeff Dykan, managing director of SCPVitalife Fund.The global economy may be fragile right now, but SCPVitalife Fund, a new Israeli venture capital fund that plans to invest in Israeli biomed startups, is already oversubscribed.“We planned …

“We use a team approach,” Jeff Dykan, managing director of SCPVitalife Fund.The global economy may be fragile right now, but SCPVitalife Fund, a new Israeli venture capital fund that plans to invest in Israeli biomed startups, is already oversubscribed.

“We planned to raise $150 million but the fund is already oversubscribed at $162 million,” says Jeff Dykan, managing director of the Tel Aviv-based fund, pointing out that the fund could end up turning away investors. “We won’t go over $200 million,” he says.

SCP Vitalife’s success in raising money at time of global economic uncertainty is based on the track record of Dykan, and co-manager Avi Ludomirsky who just four years ago set up a $50 million fund that invested in 17 Israeli startups that have done exceedingly well.

Their success stories include the sale last March of Haifa-based Sightline to Stryker Corp. in a $140 million deal. Sightline is the developer of a new flexible endoscope for gastro-intestinal procedures. Stryker’s satisfaction with the deal is reflected in the fact that it has now also invested in the new SCPVitalife Fund.

Another Vitalife portfolio company, Herzliya-based ColBar LifeScience was acquired by Johnson & Johnson for $159 million. ColBar produces artificial collagen material for use in implants primarily for anti-aging products.

In addition, portfolio company, Biocontrol, sold its implantable device technology for controlling urinary incontinence to American Medical Systems for $50 million; while Can-fite, which is developing drugs for cancer and other diseases, carried out an IPO on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

The new SCP Vitalife fund has already sparked interest amongst US investors. Two American pension funds, the Massachusetts State Pension Fund and the NY State Common Pension Fund, recently took a stake in the fund, and returning US investors include medical device giant Boston Scientific.

Aside from Dykan and Ludomirsky, the new fund has a third managing partner, Wayne Weisman of Philadelphia-based SCP Partners which manages a portfolio of $900 million. SCP Vitalife plans to invest in about 20 Israeli companies, including Niti Medical Technologies, which is developing technology for improving surgical compression procedures, and Regentis Biomaterials, which is developing materials for bone, spine and cartilage repair.

Prior to entering the life sciences field Dykan studied at New York University and Tel Aviv University and served as CEO of Bitband, a high-tech company. After meeting Avi Ludomirsky six years ago, the two decided that they had complementary backgrounds combining operations and scientific experience that could be utilized in managing a VC fund.

“We use a team approach and are very actively involved in all investments,” notes Dykan.

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