Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been looking at two of the leading Israeli cyber-security vendors, PortNox and Meta Networks and it got us thinking about the partnerships between UK and Israeli tech companies and if there was anything we could do to initiate some sort of mutually beneficial trade link.
But someone had the idea first and we’re delighted they did…
It Was An Idea, Now It’s Reality
In 2011, the UK Israel Tech Hub was launched. It did (and does) exactly what it says on the tin.
It’s a tech hub connecting UK companies with Israel’s world-class technical innovators and it helps Israeli tech companies get a foothold in the UK (and by definition further afield) by partnering with British firms.
In just seven years since the Tech Hub was established, the impact on start-ups and established global businesses has been incredible and the facts back up the story:
- The total of deals announced – £85 million*
- The potential economic impact to the UK’s tech sector – £800 million*
- Annual average value of the partnerships – £15.4 million*
- Number of innovation partnerships facilitated – 175*
- Israeli tech companies engaging with the hub – 490*
Great Stats, But Why Israel? It’s Tiny, Isn’t It?
John Medved, the founder and chief executive of venture capital company OurCrowd puts it in a way we can all understand. ‘In the way Brits are obsessed with football, Israelis are obsessed with tech start-ups. It’s the national sport.’
Israel may only be a nation of 8.5 million people (a smidge more than the population of London alone) but while they are small in numbers, they’re huge in innovation and they lead the world in areas including AI, drones, big data, robotics, cyber-security, fintech, marketing tech, nanotechnology, medical science, biotech, smart transport, cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
According to www.ukisraelhub.com, Israel has more start-ups per capita than anywhere else in the world aside from Silicon Valley (and that includes the rather lazily-named Silicon Roundabout in and around Old Street.)
There are around 30 Israeli firms listed on the London Stock Exchange with a value north of £6 billion and the UK is Europe’s largest beneficiary of Israeli foreign direct investment with almost 350 firms operating here.
‘Israel is known to be a global centre for cyber innovation. If we aren’t tapping into that we’re missing a huge trick’
Mike Hodgson, Head of Innovation Engagement, BT
It’s a growth market and with the UK Israel Tech Hub, it’s getting bigger and bigger.
That’s All Good, But Won’t Brexit Have A Negative Effect?
It doesn’t seem so. Ami Daniel, the founder of Israeli maritime data firm Windward said that his company intends to ‘invest more and more in London’ citing the undisputable fact that ‘Marine insurance was literally invented here at Lloyd’s of London, and it’s here to stay, and so are we.’
In whatever the post-Brexit environment looks like, Chief Executive of UK Israel Business Hugo Bieber thinks that hubs like this ‘are a new source of diplomacy that the UK needs’ and given the success of the UK Israel Tech Hub, the UK government is looking at replicating this model of success in tie-ups with other nations starting with South Africa, Brazil and India.
Case Study: Tevva Motors
Founded by Asher Bennett, Tevva Motors, according to their website, are ‘creating a world in which zero emission road freight vehicles are the norm, not the exception.’
From humble beginnings, they are now based on an industrial estate outside of Chelmsford in Essex and the team of 45 are making constant investment into the UK with their extended-range electric trucks designed to travel at least 100 miles a day with zero emissions.
CEO Bennett says ‘the UK has many advantages for entrepreneurs, such as access to investors, as well as access to great team members, great engineers, and a great market to start and trial your product.’
He also suggests that the fact that most Israelis speak perfect English, the relatively straightforward sub-five-hour flight from London to Tel Aviv and the barely noticeable two-hour time difference is an advantage to doing business in – and with – the UK.
As far as Brexit is concerned, Bennett echoes a similar sentiment to many, ‘I would have preferred that there hadn’t been this complication called Brexit, but I’m sure we’ll overcome anything thrown at us.’
We’ll leave the last word to Matt Hancock who was, until July 2018 when he took over from Jeremy Hunt as the Health Secretary, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport under whose remit the UK Israel Tech Hub sat.
‘What makes the Hub unique is its driving spirit of collaboration. It goes beyond the classic model of import and export, seeking new business win-win partnerships between the two countries with a proactive market approach that focuses on sectors where both economies can grow.’
It’s been a long time coming but finally, something sensible out of the mouth of a politician!
Have a good week.