Israel seeks backing for tech startups in Davos

54th WEF annual meeting in Davos

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - An Israeli agency came to Davos with a message for the business community, its CEO told Reuters: Israel's start-ups are open for investment.

Dror Bin, who runs the publicly funded Israel Innovation Authority, said in an interview it was important for him to tell large multinationals and other investors that, despite the Israel-Hamas war, the country's tech sector "continues to deliver".

More than 300,000 Israelis were drafted to reserve military service since the Oct. 7 attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas. Labour shortages that impacted the tech sector have been expected to ease with changes in the war, which has led to a mounting death toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

According to Bin, the Israel Innovation Authority requires financial matching by the private sector for it to give grants to Israeli start-ups conducting research and development. Successful start-ups pay their grant's value back to the agency, he said.

For start-ups previously, "it was relatively easy for them to raise money," Bin said. "We want to make sure that investors are not deciding to wait and see how the world evolves."

Bin declined to specify investments the agency was helping to secure. Asked how Davos participants had responded to his call for support, Bin said some were viewing investment in terms of both financial return and "philanthropic activity".

"They want to invest," he said. "They want to support Israel."

(Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in Davos, Switzerland; Editing by Alex Richardson)