Israel’s unemployment rate fell to 4.3%; the Bank of Israel’s foreign currency reserves exceeded $100 billion for the first time ever; 69% of all electricity produced in Israel now comes from natural gas, and much more!
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Unemployment at new record low
Israel’s unemployment rate fell to 4.3% in December, from the previous record low of 4.5% in November. Most of the increase was in full-time jobs. More women joined the labor force. The average salary rose by more than 2.5% over the past year.
Over $100 billion in currency reserves
Ahead of the official announcement, foreign exchange analysts have calculated that the Bank of Israel’s foreign currency reserves have exceeded $100 billion for the first time ever. Last month’s value was $98.361 billion and the BOI added at least $2.75 billion in January.
Record electricity production from natural gas
69% of all electricity produced in Israel now comes from natural gas – a new Israeli record. The Israel Electric Corporation reported electricity production at 11,936 megawatts, of which 8,258 MW was produced by gas-driven turbines. The rest is from coal and other sources.
Air fares fall 15% thanks to Open Skies
Air fares from Israel to Western Europe have fallen 18% in the five years since Israel signed the Open Skies airline competition agreement with the EU. Fares to North America have also dropped – by 14%. 110 foreign airlines now fly to Israel, and passenger traffic has increased by 40%.
More foreign tourists stay in Israel
Some 970,000 tourists stayed at least one night in Israel in Nov 2016, an increase of 38% compared to Nov 2015 and 23% higher than Nov 2014. The revenue generated from foreign tourists in Nov 2016 was more than 1.5 billion shekels ($390 million).
Up to 100 startups on show
More details of the world’s largest equity crowdfunding conference taking place in Jerusalem on Feb 16. 5000 delegates from 80 countries including 200 multinationals. Most of OurCrowd’s portfolio of 110 startups will participate. They include Consumer Physics, MedAware, VocalZoom, Freightos and Zebra Medical. http://blog.ourcrowd.com/
Facebook community for Israeli startups
Israel’s Startup Stadium is a non-profit venture that maintains a Facebook page with almost 40,000 friends and a variety of other activities. It provides a network of connections between entrepreneurs, investors, and representatives of international corporations.
From university idea, to startup success
I reported previously (Aug 2013) about the GuideIN Tube designed by students at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center to help inflate collapsed lungs. Guide In Medical is now a startup company and has just raised two million shekels ($529,000) for further development of the device.
Israel’s first student-run venture fund
Fresh.fund is Israel’s new student-run venture fund. Its aim is to invest in early-stage companies and ventures run by students and others. The new fund has raised $1 million from an angel investor in Jerusalem and intends to invest $20,000 to $50,000 per venture.
Cimagine exits for $30-$40 million
I reported previously (5 times) on Israeli augmented reality startup Cimagine Media. Now Image messaging app Snapchat is buying Cimagine for an estimated $30-$40 million, marking Snapchat’s first acquisition in Israel. Cimagine will become Snapchat’s R&D center in Israel.
$250 million for Israeli plastics company
US Celanese Corporation has acquired the nylon compounding product portfolio of Israel’s Nilit Plastics for an estimated $250 million. Nilit, however, will retain ownership of its worldwide nylon fibers and polymerization businesses, including facilities in Israel, US, China, and Brazil.
Online cash advances. Israeli fintech startup Behalf has provided millions of dollars of short-term loans to US companies to pay their suppliers. Borrowers apply on the Behalf website, which uses databases and algorithms to decide if the borrower is a good risk. Behalf pays the supplier, and collects from the borrower on pay day.
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