US-based Valley National Bancorp said that it has invested $25m in The Garage, an Israeli venture capital (VC) fund focused on developing and investing in early-stage startups in the areas of financial technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and cyber.

Garage is backed by Israeli banking company Bank Leumi and BRM Group, a family office.

The Israeli venture capital fund was established and managed by Omer Nagar, Shay Dan, and Eyal Redler. The trio is said to have previously served in high-ranked roles in elite Israel Defense Forces (IDF) intelligence and technology units.

The founders of Garage are said to bring more than 60 years of cumulative experience in research and development (R&D), technology, as well as strategic global operations.

Garage CEO Omer Nagar said: “This is another important milestone in The Garage’s plan to allow Israeli tier-1 entrepreneurs a one-stop shop to take them from the initial investment through to a game changing design partnership with Bank Leumi, and all the way to the heart of the US market at Valley.”

Valley National Bancorp said that its investment in Garage will support its own digital transformation efforts.

Besides, the investment is expected to help the increasing number of Israeli fintech startups by showing a quick path to the US market, said the bank holding company.

Valley National Bancorp said that it plans to set up a designated team to enable the quick and effective integration of Garage’s portfolio firms into the systems of its banking subsidiary, Valley National Bank.

Valley National Bancorp chief product officer Stuart Cook said: “Our goal is to challenge the traditional approach to banking by operating on the forefront of technology and innovation. We’ve found a partner in The Garage that is leading this charge and radically altering the financial services landscape forever by taking on the world’s biggest challenges in fintech, AI and cyber.

“Together with The Garage, we’ll be able to bring the vision of these aspiring startups to life by accelerating their access to the U.S. market and providing the banking solutions they need to be successful.”