Merck, the German drug manufacturing giant, has opened a tech incubator in Israel, PMatX, which will focus on companies that develop semiconductor and sensor technology, The Times of Israel reported  Monday.
“This is our newest initiative in Israel to help startups and academic ideas in the material sciences to become real companies, and support them in their first steps to validate their technologies,” said Jasper Bos, managing director of M Ventures, the venture capital division of the drug company, which will manage the Israeli incubator. “This fits into the mandate of M Ventures, to invest in groundbreaking technologies that lead to a paradigm shift in how we do business.”
Merck employs 52,000 people worldwide and manufactures therapies for diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis, as well as liquid crystals for electronic devices.
The Merck family, which established the company in 1668, still remains the majority owners of the enterprise.
PMatX was established in the Israeli city of Yavne this past August but was formally opened last week. It is the second incubator that Merck inaugurated in Israel and will have a budget of €20 million ($22.7 million) for three years.
Merck created BioIncubator in Israel in 2011. BioIncubator invests in startup companies in the biomedical field.
“A number of years ago we started mapping out places in the world where we saw disproportionate innovation compared to the amount of money being invested and compared to the size of the country,” Bos said, explaining Merck’s interest in the Jewish State. “That led to Israel being seen as one of the hotspots, where we saw an incredible amount of very early stage, super-exciting ideas but at the same time shortage of the translation of those ideas into well-funded companies. And that led us to the set up of the BioIncubator, and eventually to this, our latest incubator.”
In 2014, Merck signed  a cooperation agreement with the Israeli government. The government agreed to help Merck identify life sciences companies that would be good fits to collaborate with the pharmaceutical giant. By the terms of the agreement, Israel would also help fund the resulting research and development efforts.
[Photo: Merck / YouTube ]