June 27, 2016
Twenty five years ago, the MIDC made one of its first loans to a tiny, two-person company in the new high tech incubator, Kiryat Gat. Today, this former startup is selling its products to NASA, the ESA (European Space Agency) and the defense industry, among others.
Acktar, which now boasts 50 employees, is an international technology leader in the development of black light absorbing coatings. Headquartered in Kiryat Gat, Baltimore’s former sister city, with subsidiaries in Germany, Japan and Korea, it thanks MIDC for help getting it started.
At the time, the MIDC was in its infancy. The organization’s board of directors, which included Hanan Sibel, Marvin Schapiro, Marty Waxman and Andy Conn wanted to provide grants to Israeli high tech companies in Kiryat Gat to create jobs.
Israel, meanwhile, was just beginning to invest in high tech incubators as a way to help Russian immigrant scientists and engineers commercialize the technologies they were developing. It was a time before the country became renowned as the “Start-Up Nation.”
The Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade provided funding for startup companies that was contingent on these businesses raising some of the money. The Associated, through MIDC, established a loan fund to help entrepreneurs fill that funding gap. They received a matching grant from The Jewish Agency.
Acktar, a mother/daughter startup, was one of those companies. Last month, the daughter was in Baltimore, attending the SPIE Defense and Commercial Sensing Conference where she met up with Barry Bogage at a welcome reception MIDC hosted.
“Dina told me that if it wasn’t for that loan, over 20 years ago, Acktar would not have gotten started,” recalls Bogage.
Since those first loans, MIDC has invested in a number of other high tech Israeli companies. Its Maryland/Israel Trendlines Fund invested over $4 million in 12 Israeli high tech startups. Two of the companies have already had exits.
In addition, the MIDC runs small businesses loan funds for companies in its current Israeli sister city of Ashkelon.
The MIDC will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2017.