KBase - The Quarterly Newsletter from NovoJuris, June 2014

Business Gateway – Israel and India

By Sharda Balaji, Founder, NovoJuris

This May 2014, I attended the Israel Innovation Conference, at Tel Aviv, an event focused on Bio-Med and Hi-Tech. Having experienced Israel’s innovation capabilities from close quarters, from working with Israeli clients in NovoJuris and earlier, while I was working with Intel;  to being amidst the entrepreneurs and innovators, the energy is palpable. Israel – Is Real. width=550 This was my first trip and I interacted with the government, universities, accelerators, investors and of course, startups and founders. The discussion points hovered around business partnerships between India and Israel, R&D, commercializable IP and evolved startup ecosystem. Israel is known as a startup nation and has the highest gross expenditure on R&D, largest number of companies listed on NASDAQ outside of North America, highest level of venture capital as share of GDP, 1 startup for every 1500 people, 38 accelerators in a country, which perhaps is as big as Kerala. The government not only spends on R &D but has various active programs to support and fund commercialization. I found that aspect of making the R & D spend “matter”, fascinating.

Building blocks of innovation.

  • ‘Most universities have very active entrepreneurship centers,’ says Mr. Oren Simanian, Founder of StarTau, TelAviv University. If the Tata Group has to grow from a  $3bn to a $5bn organization, then the answer is innovation. This holds true for an organization and a country. Innovation is a major driver of productivity, economic growth and development. It is a part of the country’s academics. Tel Aviv University has about 15000 patents, of which 35% is commercializable, according to a group of Indian scientists who visited the university. Tata Group has recently given a grant of $5mn to Tel Aviv University.
  • The Office of the Chief Scientist, Ministry of Economy, has numerous programs, which I think have been a major catalyst in Israel becoming a key centre for high tech entrepreneurship. A variety of support programs, handled by MATIMOP, have contributed to this - including providing matching grants, soft-loans  and the like, to enable research and development and its commercialization.  As information, the Govt of Karnataka recently entered into a MOU for R & D Co-operation, Karnataka-Israel R&D Cooperation Program-KIRDand the finer details of the program are being worked out says Ms. Hadas Kroituru the Program Manager for Asia-Pacific, MATIMOP.
Founders DNA
  • All 18 year olds have to serve the army. This gives every young person an incredible experience of leadership, discipline, a very high sense of risk taking ability, ‘getting it done – no matter what’ attitude, the ability to think solutions and very fast. Perhaps, it is because of this that nearly everyone knows everyone or there is just one degree of separation to get connected amongst the Israelis.
  • Compared to the life-risks faced in a battle-field (and this nation does not have a friendly neighborhood), the risks of starting a venture seem small.
  • Failure is just another outcome to start again.

The Eco-system.

38 accelerators and incubators, 17 co-working spaces, nearly 10 startup events a day, highest ratio of Investment to startups, in the world. Add to that - the communities and R & D centres, and the eco-system has massive momentum and energy. Here is what Nivcalder, Founder of a stealth-mode startup, has to say.

I heard one of the most positive speeches about India in the recent times, by Mr. Jaideep Sarkar, Ambassador of India to Israel. With the governments of the two countries working so closely, I am upbeat that business between the countries is poised for growth. It is interesting to know that nearly every Israeli has a ‘visit to India’ on their bucket-list. At NovoJuris, we have been doing a lot of work with Israeli companies. You can always reach out to us to know more.

The Companies Act 2013 Update

The Companies Act, 2013 has brought in many changes. We have discussed many provisions, as applicable to private limited companies and fund raising, on our blog. Here are some that warrant a quick look  - Employee Stock Option has become prescriptive.  Fund raising, specially for early stage startups has become a bit more difficult. Issue of shares to existing shareholders.  One Person Company Corporate Social Responsibility  Various options to set up business

Showcasing some of our services:

Accelerators -  We help structure the program; get statutory clearances; set up the investment vehicles and work with the portfolio companies to enable the success of the program. International Business gateways - We have experience in cross-border transactions between India and USA, Singapore and Israel. We help structure the business, legal entities, taxation, investment, various compliances including foreign exchange related compliances with RBI and other statutory authorities. Prevention of Sexual Harassment : With Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH) being mandatory for all organisations, we help with structuring the policy, process, committees and training for the employees. We also handle reported cases of harassment. Alternate Investment Funds, Category I - We help structure and set up the investment vehicles, SEBI registrations, support the investment side of the fund and work with the portfolio companies.

Interesting reads from our Twitterdom

  1. Non-compete clause will not be allowed for FDI in pharmaceutical sector, except in special circumstances with the approval of FIPB. 
  2. ECB can now be called for working capital requirements, which will require prior approval from RBI 
  3. Instead of multiple SEBI regulations for listing & disclosure requirements for equity & debt, SEBI has proposed a single umbrella document & is up for public comments.
  4. A director will have to attend at least 1 board meeting during past 12 months, failing which his office will automatically become vacant, even if leave of absence is given by Board.
  5. Conditions for  re-schedulement of ECB due to changes in draw-down schedule and / or repayment schedule have been simplified.
  6. Issues relating to dislisting have been addressed in SEBI Discussion Paper on 'Review of Delisting Regulations', which are up for public comments. 
  7. Provision of appointment of whole time Company Secretary in all companies having paid up share capital of Rs. 5 crores or more has been restored.
  8. Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2011 giving protection to people who expose corruption in government or irregularities by public functionaries has received consent from President Pranab Mukherjee
  9. Calling ECB has been made simpler, with shifting of approval authority from RBI to concerned Authorized Dealer Bank.
  10. Limit for resident individuals has been increased from USD 75,000 per financial year to USD 125,000 with immediate effect,  under Liberalised Remittance Scheme

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