International venture capital partnership to bring Israeli energy startups to Colorado

Gili Elkin

Courtesy photo

Gili Elkin

In a unique international partnership, the Israeli government and a Colorado-based venture capital fund will start a new program to bring to Colorado Israeli startups that focus on water, energy and transportation.

The Israel-Colorado Innovation Fund is a venture capital firm established in April by Gili Elkin, an Israeli citizen but a native of Berkeley, Calif., who worked in Silicon Valley representing venture capital firms. After moving back to Israel for a short period of time, she decided to try her hand in Colorado, a place she believes is fertile ground for new companies.

“I moved here because of the fast-growing startup ecosystem here in Colorado,” Elkin said. “Because it’s not as crowded as Silicon Valley, I believe startups have a better chance to stand out here.”

The fund, which was spearheaded by some of Colorado’s leading energy and water executives and backed by Innosphere, a Colorado startup accelerator, has a annual budget of $4 million. This year, six companies are being given grants totaling $1.5 million.

The Israeli Innovation Authority will match funds put up by Elkin’s firm, an agreement that is the first of its kind, she said. Previously, the innovation authority has not partnered with an agency or firm outside Israel. Elkin attributed the partnership due to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s support for the idea.

During a launch event Monday, Kathleen Staks, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office, discussed the partnership, according to a transcript of her comments sent by Elkins. Staks said the partnership builds on the water industry efforts Hickenlooper started in 2015 with the Colorado Water Plan and his executive order committing the state to climate action.

“As Colorado’s population continues to grow, effective means of managing and treating water will become increasingly vital,” Staks said Monday. “Our state is always eager to advance its position in the sectors (of energy, water, and transportation) through innovation and partnership.”

Each selected startup receives between $500,000 and $1 million. Elkin said the venture is still raising funds, but it has several commitments and expect to reach its target soon.

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