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When we last talked with Gur Roshwalb, M.D., in 2016, he was the CEO of Akari Therapeutics Plc in New York, a company created when Dr. Roshwalb negotiated the merger of biotech companies Celsus Therapeutics and Volution Immuno Pharmaceuticals.
Three years later, he is the managing director of aMoon Fund, a healthcare venture capital company in Ra’anana, Israel.
Dr. Roshwalb explains why he, his wife and four children moved to Israel and the career choices he made to get them there.
At the end of the day, I had an issue with the board and I resigned. I left to take over a private biotech company as CEO, Zywie Bio. I was there for about a year but was interested in moving back to venture and I joined a venture capital group in Israel called aMoon.
First of all, I’m Orthodox and my mother is Israeli. My wife, who’s French and also Jewish, and I had always talked about moving to Israel. The opportunity to leave Akari and move on to the next company opened the door for me to say: ‘What do I want to do next and what can I do next?’ That led to me doing some networking, which eventually led to my joining aMoon and moving to Israel.
We have a fund called aMoon II, which is a late-stage health care fund, that focuses on an interesting gap. In Israel, companies can usually raise their first couple million dollars, but once they get to the proof of concept stage there isn’t a large capital infrastructure here to give them the next large check that they really need. That’s not true in the United States. We’re trying to change that. We’re a global investment fund, with a large focus on Israel, that invests in health care across digital, diagnostic, devices and therapeutics with an emphasis on late stage opportunities. We also have a seed/early stage fund called Velocity.
I was at a lunch with some friends during the weekend, and I was talking about what I was thinking about doing next. Someone mentioned he knew a person in biotech in Israel and I said, ‘That’s funny, I went to college with him.’ We had remained acquaintances and I ended up emailing him. He sent my resume to the HR person at aMoon, who called me. And, after lots of interviews, here I am today.
It sounds quick but it was a lot of interviews and a lot of time. I looked at my network and started reaching out to 10 or 11 people in Israel. I also interviewed for jobs in the New York area. I had a couple of offers, and this was the one I decided to take.
We’re a fast-growing fund. It depends on what you mean by ‘biggest challenge.’ What’s the thing I work on the most? Sourcing, diligencing and finding deals. What’s the hardest thing that I do? I don’t know. I’ve been here five months and I’m still working on getting my first deal done, but I very much enjoy what I do.