Israeli venture capital firm OurCrowd has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Azerbaijan Investment Company (AIC), represented by the Chairman of its Supervisory Board, Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan, Mikayil Jabbarov. The memorandum is intended to promote strategic cooperation in the field of investment by the Government of Azerbaijan in OurCrowd’s portfolio.
The agreement makes OurCrowd the first Israeli business entity to sign an agreement with Azerbaijan since that nation opened its Trade and Tourism Offices in Israel.
A former Soviet Republic, Azerbaijan became an independent nation in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union. The country opened its Trade and Tourism office in Tel Aviv on July 31, a preliminary step to the opening of the Azeri Embassy. Israel and Azerbaijan had about $200 million in trade between them in 2020.
In March of this year, Israeli defense company Meteor Aerospace teamed up with Caspian Ship Building Company (CSBC) of Azerbaijan to jointly offer advanced defense solutions to meet the Eurasian country’s national needs. An estimated 30,000 Jews live in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan Investment Company (“AIC”) was established by Presidential decree in March 2006. All shares of AIC are owned by the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The company is governed by a supervisory board appointed by the Ministry of Economy. The main economic purpose of the AIC is capital investments into the non-oil sector of the Azerbaijan Republic.
OurCrowd has raised $1.8 billion in investment committed across 250 portfolio companies and 27 funds. Since its inception in 2013. the firm has recorded 46 exits, as well as the NASDAQ launches of Beyond Meat and Lemonade, and a number of high profile acquisitions including, Jump Bike by Uber, Briefcam By Canon, Argus by Continental, Crosswise by Oracle, Replay by Intel, Corephotonics by Samsung, and CyberX by Microsoft. Today, OurCrowd’s investment platform has 118,000 qualified investors from 195 countries.
OurCrowd explained that in the initial phase, AIC will invest in 10-15 startups from the OurCrowd portfolio, specifically those technologies and innovations which have significant potential to encourage growth for the Azerbaijan economy, with a specific focus on the fields of energy, health, education and more.
The deal will first be subject to a successful full-scale agreement between AIC and Our Crowd.
OurCrowd hopes that other potential partners based in Azerbaijan, in both the private and public sectors, will be making similar arrangements in the near future.
Minister Jabbarov, said at the signing ceremony, “The Memorandum of Understanding between the Israeli company OurCrowd, and the Azerbaijan Investment Company has been signed to attract investments in startup projects and transfer the best practices of leading Israeli companies to our country. This new area of cooperation will contribute to the establishment of an innovative ecosystem in our country.”
CEO and Founder of OurCrowd, Jon Medved said, “The OurCrowd model of investment, and the companies that we support, are testament to the power of cooperation and partnership. The opportunity to sign an MOU with Azerbaijan will allow us to expand our reach, and help new entrepreneurs and startups realize their dreams. Moreover, this agreement will play a significant part in advancing the cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan. By bringing together entrepreneurs and investors in both countries and around the world, we will be able to expand our ecosystem, and build new innovations together.”