Last year was a banner one for Israeli exits – and especially for IPOs, according to the IVC Research Center and Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal law firm. Altogether, some two dozen Israeli companies went public in 2014, accounting for $2.1 billion of the nearly $7 billion raised in 99 Israeli tech exits.
Most of those IPOs were on the NASDAQ, but London turned out to be a close second. Nine Israeli firms listed on the London Stock Exchange, two on the Main Market (for well established companies) and seven on the AIM, the international Alternative Investment Market for smaller start-ups. More Israeli firms went public in London than from any other country, other than the UK itself.
To celebrate, some 30 CEOs and CFOs of Israeli companies took part last week in an event with representatives of the London Stock Exchange, organized by UK Trade & Investment at the British Embassy in Israel. The British Embassy, as the representative of the London Stock Exchange in Israel, assists Israeli companies in raising funds in London.
Amira Bardichev, an attorney who leads the IPOs sector at the Embassy, and who also established the Israeli desk at the London Stock Exchange a few years ago, said that “there is an immense interest in the London Stock Exchange by Israeli companies. We are approached all the time with requests for information and assistance from the Embassy, as well as connecting them to professional advisers in London that could support them in the listing process.”
The British Embassy in Israel is about much more than diplomatic relations; It’s been very active in encouraging Israel-British cooperation on many levels, from business to investment to medical research. Just last week, the Embassy announced the third round of the BIRAX partnership, a joint initiative of the the British Embassy and the British Council in Israel, is a bilateral research program that promotes regenerative medicine research, a biomedical approach to curing and restoring the functions of the human body, often using the body’s own tissues. This year, BIRAX will be funding eight projects at eleven universities in Israel and the UK doing stem-cell research to develop therapies for diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, and Multiple Sclerosis.
According to British Prime Minister David Cameron, Birax was about “our world-class scientists and foundations collaborating to tackle some of the most challenging health conditions facing the world today, from heart disease to Parkinson’s and diabetes. Their research has the potential to change the lives of hundreds of millions of people. The United Kingdom is proud to be Israel’s partner in science. In so many areas our scientists are working together and engaged in some of the most significant projects of our age.”
Besides medical technology, Israel and the UK work closely on high-tech projects as well. Last week as well, the UK announced its choice of participants in the third edition of theTeXchange FinTech Challenge, which will see fifteen Israeli start-ups travel to London in March to meet investors, potential partners, and financial industry executives, were announced this week as well. The companies have developed solutions for the burning issues in today’s online business environment – online/mobile banking platforms, cyber security and anti fraud systems, payment solutions, predictive modeling, and much more.
TeXchange is an annual program of the UK-Israel Hub, a team at the British Embassy Israel which promotes technology partnerships between the two countries. Each year, up to 15 innovative Israeli startups in a sector with high potential for UK- Israel collaboration are selected to travel to the UK on a targeted business delegation. They are introduced to potential strategic partners, customers and investors and offered networking opportunities with business leaders, startups and government officials, in Europe’s financial center and fastest growing tech cluster.
The burgeoning business between Israel and the UK – spanning tech companies from infancy, as start-ups, to maturity, when they go public in London, is exactly what Matthew Gould has been aiming for in his tenure as British ambassador to Israel. “I’m delighted so many Israeli companies are listing in London,” he said. “London offers many advantages for Israeli companies – appropriate regulation, the English language, more banks than anywhere else in the world, real excitement about what Israel has to offer, and all less than five hours flight away.”