The growth of the Israeli economy in recent years has been driven by a number of factors. The expanding trade relations, massive immigration from the former Soviet Union, an expanding technology industry based on military know-how, Israel's highly skilled and educated work force, strong private consumption, increased investments in infrastructure and government incentives for R&D have all contributed to making Israel an attractive avenue for investors.
These same factors have fostered an entrepreneurial culture in Israel that has generated over 4,000 start-up ventures to date, placing Israel directly behind the United States in terms of the number of start-up ventures. Israel's entrepreneurial culture and rapid economic growth enabled over 150 Israel-related companies to list their shares on the NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX making Israel second only to Canada with respect to foreign companies listed in the U.S. In 2004, the Israeli hi tech industry generated more than $13 billion in exports, representing more than 25% of total Israeli commercial exports(excluding diamonds, ships and aircrafts).
We, at the Challenge Funds, continue to believe in the Israeli investment opportunity and endeavour to take an active part in its future. With over $200 million in capital under management, we are positioned as one of the leading venture capital funds operating in Israel today.
We seek to invest our capital in private and public companies in a diverse range of economic sectors and at various stages of product development. Our investment philosophy has always focused on people; we invest only in superior management teams that demonstate extraordinary skills and experience. We look for unique products with high barriers to entry in rapidly growing markets.
Our team is composed of highly talented and motivated investment professionals with diverse backgrounds in the areas of high tech, industry, finance and law. Our team will continue to utilize its extensive network of contacts as well as its access to strategic and financial allies worldwide to assist our portfolio companies with the execution of their business plan.
Although we have invested in more than 70 companies in our 10 years of existence, we believe our journey has only just begun. We will continue to seek out the best return on investment for our partners, based on our investment philosophy.