The birth of Israeli high-tech can be traced back to 1962, with the founding of Elron by Uzia Galil. Since then and until today, Elron has been instrumental in the success of high-growth enterprises in fields such as medical devices and imaging, advanced defense electronics, information technology, software and services, telecommunications and semiconductors.
To view a special letter from Elron's founder, Uzia Galil, click here
THE 1960s: PIONEERING DEFENSE
In its early days, Elron focused on defense, particularly electronics and avionics, as well as the emerging medical and technology sectors. In 1966, Elron founded Elbit, which combined the expertise of Israel's Ministry of Defense-Research Institute in special computer design with Elron's experience in electronic product design, manufacture and management. Elbit steadily expanded, developing and producing logistic-support weapon delivery and navigation systems for most Israeli aircraft, establishing a combat avionics package for the Lavi fighter aircraft, and producing a fire-control system for the Merkava tank. In 2004, Elron sold its stake in Elbit Systems (a spin-off of Elbit's defense arm, NASDAQ: ESLT) for approximately $200 million. Today, Elbit Systems is an international defense electronics company providing high-performance defense electronic and electro-optic systems for customers throughout the world.
THE 1970s: PIONEERING MEDICAL IMAGING
In 1972, Elron's newly spun-off medical imaging company, Elscint, became the first Israeli company to list on the NASDAQ. In 1975, Elron followed suit, listing on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Elscint grew to become a world leader in the development of medical imaging technologies, forging a new technology: Computer Tomography (CT). In just over 10 years, the company achieved major breakthroughs, overshadowing the competition by reducing the scanning operation to seconds. It also entered the realm of ultrasound. In 1990, Elbit Medical Imaging (EMI, a spin-off of Elbit's medical arm) acquired a majority share in Elscint. In 1999, Elscint and EMI sold their imaging activities to General Electric Medical Systems (NYSE: GE) and to Picker (now Philips, NYSE: PHG) for approximately $600 million.
THE 1980s: PIONEERING SEMICONDUCTORS
In 1981, Elron listed its shares on the NASDAQ. Also that year, it established Oprotech, which pioneered automated optical inspection of printed circuit boards. The Optrotech-Orbot merger formed Orbotech (NASDAQ: ORBK), a world leader in automated optical inspection (AOI) and imaging as well as computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) technologies. In 1983, Elron was actively involved in the early stages of the establishment of Zoran, a pioneer in the development of digital signal processing (DSP) technology, which went on to become a leader in digital solutions for the digital entertainment and imaging markets, and in 2011, merged with CSR (LSE: CSR) to create a global leader in wireless connectivity, location-aware, imaging, video, and audio products. During 1999 to 2001, Elron sold its stake in Orbotech and Zoran for approximately $100 million.
THE 1990s: PIONEERING COMMUNICATIONS
In the early 90's, Elron was one of the internet pioneers in Israel, expanding into information technologies and communications by the end of the decade. Landmark companies founded by Elron during the 90's include Partner Communication (NASDAQ: PTNR), Israel’s first GSM operator, and NetVision, Israel's first – and later largest – ISP (which in 2011 merged with CellCom (NYSE: CEL), a leading Israeli cellular provider). During 2003 to 2006, Elron sold its stake in Partner for approximately $160 million. In 2009, Elron sold its stake in NetVision for approximately $60 million. Two other companies in the internet field, Peach Networks and HyNEX, were sold in 2000 to Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and to Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) respectively for over $200 million.
THE 2000s: PIONEERING MEDICAL DEVICES
Through RDC, a joint subsidiary of Elron and Rafael (the Israeli Ministry of Defense's principal R&D entity) that has exclusive rights to commercialize Rafael's technologies, Elron has incubated and developed several technology leaders, most notably in the field of medical devices. Given Imaging, established by RDC based on Rafael's military technology, redefined gastrointestinal disease diagnosis by developing the PillCam ingestible video capsule. In 2001, Given Imaging went public, as the first company to be listed on the NASDAQ after the tragic events of September 11. In 2014, Given Imaging was acquired by Covidien at a value of approximately $1 billion. Another RDC success is Medingo, established in 2005, which developed a miniature, lightweight insulin pump. In 2010, Medingo was sold to the Swiss global health-care giant Roche for approximately $180 million.
THE 2010s: BUILDING TOMORROW'S LEADERS
For five decades Elron has been facilitating the growth of hi-tech ventures in diverse fields and stages, generating an impressive record of IPO's, M&A's, and restructuring deals. Elron's exit record since 2010 totaled approximately $1.5 billion, with proceeds from exits amounting to approximately $500 million.
Today, Elron has significant holdings in a select number of start-up companies with disruptive potential, primarily in the field of medical devices. Recently, we expanded our focus to the cyber space. (See Our Holdings). Elron is constantly and actively looking at new exciting ventures in order to continue and build tomorrow's leaders.