The United Kingdom has a goal of becoming “one of the safest places to do business online in the world,” according to British Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude. To help achieve that goal, Britain is seeking Israeli help.
On a visit to Israel this week, Maude met with top government officials involved in cyber security and visited start-ups working in the field to discuss possible investments.
“It was a pleasure to be back in Israel to see more of Israel’s impressive cyber and digital innovation first hand,” said Maude. “Both countries face enormous challenges in securing our cyber spaces and supplying the best digital services to our citizens, so cooperation between the UK and Israel is of great mutual benefit.”
During his visit, Maude met Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Prime Minister’s Office Director General Harel Locker and National Cyber Bureau head Dr. Eviatar Matania.
He also visited Beer Sheva, where he discussed public-private cyber partnerships with Prof. Rivka Carmi, President of Ben Gurion University. He later visited CyberSpark, the university’s fledgling Cyber Park, where he toured two cyber labs run by Israeli venture fund Jerusalem Venture Partners and Germany’s Deutsche Telekom.
Some of those firms, and others, Maude said, could benefit from a joint Israel-UK £1.2 million cyber research fund, announced earlier this year. In addition, Maude said he had shored up a mutual assistance pact between Israel and the UK on cyber emergencies.
“I am delighted that UK-Israel bilateral relations and cyber cooperation continues to deepen, including through the joint academic cyber research fund which we have established. We have also agreed that the UK and Israeli Computer Emergency Response teams will further strengthen their relationship to enhance global cyber resilience.”
The UK and Israel have a close tech relationship, thanks in part to the UK-Israel Tech Hub, a program of the British Embassy in Israel dedicated solely to enhancing partnerships between Israeli and British tech entities.
“Our focus is promoting commercial partnership, to make connections and show Israeli companies opportunities in the UK,” said Hub director Naomi Krieger Carmy. “We have been working with start-ups and large companies in a number of programs. There are incredible partnership opportunities for companies on both sides. Israeli innovation can ‘go global’ via Europe’s business capital, and British companies can gain a global advantage by tapping into Israel’s tech ecosystem.”
The Hub is the first – and only – government-sponsored tech mission in Israel, but the UK has gone even further. Two years ago, British Prime Minister David Cameron personally appointed British tech investor Saul Klein as the Crown’s official Tech Envoy to Israel – the only British tech envoy to anywhere.
Matthew Gould, the UK’s ambassador to Israel, said that Cameron – and the rest of the government in London – sees developing tech relations between Israel and Britain as a top priority.
“Promoting tech relations is one of the things I, and the government, care most about,” Gould said at a recent event hosting British and Israeli start-ups. “Israel is full of disruptive and innovative technology. If we could bring just a portion of that technology to Britain, instead of to Silicon Valley where much of it goes now, it would do wonders for the UK economy.”
Partnering with British tech companies, added Gould, was a smart move for Israeli start-ups, too. “It’s about building partnerships, and a relationship on something positive.”