REHOVOT, Israel - As venture capital funds expand with new technologies, the Israeli industry is grappling with increasing foreign competition on the local market.

Pamot, a $21 million seed venture capital fund located on the grounds of the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Rehovot, “aims to invest in early-stage hi-tech projects in Israel, mainly, but not solely, in projects emanating from the Weizmann,“ said CEO and President Ariel Landau.

The majority of the projects at the institute are under a right of first opportunity held by Pamot. “Under certain conditions, this right allows us to evaluate and retain for investment, with priority over any other entity, any project being developed at the institute,“ said Landau, adding, “Our investments are long-term strategic alliances.“

Another venture capital fund, Medica L.P., an Israeli-American health care venture fund, just announced it is starting another round of financing “based on earlier successes,“ said Ehud Geller, general partner.

At the same time, the Health Ministry is proposing rules for opening the biomedical and pharmaceutical sectors to foreign competition.

Moshe Manor, head of the Israel Manufacturing Association's pharmaceutical branch, responded before the Knesset Labor and Social Affairs Committee, saying, “The association does not object to liberalization.“ However, the proposed regulations, expected to add to imported pharmaceuticals by 10 percent this year, totaling $375 million, “will come much to the detriment of local pharmaceutical companies,“ he said

Manor added, “There will no longer be mutuality in registration of pharmaceuticals between Israel, the U.S. and Europe. The demands that Israeli companies would have to fulfill in registering drugs in Europe will be much more severe than those of foreign companies wishing to register their drugs here.“ *