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Google to help fund Israeli AI firms, Palestinian businesses

FILE PHOTO: A sign is pictured outside a Google office near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California

By Steven Scheer

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Google is investing $8 million to support Israeli tech firms and Palestinian businesses, the Alphabet-owned group said on Wednesday, citing the need for small companies to secure financing during the Israel-Hamas war.

Google said its $4 million support fund would be provided to AI startups in Israel and another $4 million would go to early-stage Palestinian startups and businesses to help them continue operating.

The grant to Israeli AI startups will be in addition to the Israel Innovation Authority's emergency fund that arose after the war broke out on Oct. 7, aimed at companies with a "short runway" of financing of up to six months.

"In the current situation, quite a few startups in Israel are struggling to raise capital from investors and urgently need financial bridging in order to continue operating," Google said in a statement.

Google said it had offered to help maximize the potential success of some 20 startups, in AI solutions and services, with the exact number and size of the grants determined by the requests it receives.

Separately, in partnership with local and global non-profit organizations, it will provide loans and grants to 1,000 Palestinian small businesses.

It will also provide seed grants to 50 tech startups in Palestinian areas. In total it hopes to help safeguard 4,500 jobs and create new ones for Palestinians.

Google has also donated millions of dollars to Israeli emergency efforts, as well as to humanitarian relief support provided in Gaza.

(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Kate Holton)