London doesn’t lack a start-up scene, but that won’t stop the city from importing dozens of Israeli start-ups for the second annual Innovate Israel, the largest Israel business conference outside of the Holy Land. This year’s event promises to be even bigger than last year’s, with over 500 attendees expected at the one-day event on December 4. Attendees representing some of Europe’s largest companies and investment houses, along with government and tech industry figures, will hear from senior figures from companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Virgin.
Sponsors include W residence and hotel developers, British Telecom, Bank Pictet, executive search and networking firm The Up Group, accounting firm Mazars, and Orange Telecom. Among the speakers at Innovate Israel will be Nathalie Boulanger, director of Orange Startup Ecosystem, a part of the worldwide Orange Group (not to be confused with Orange Israel, which is run by an Israeli licensee of Orange). Speaking to The Times of Israel, Boulanger said Israel was one of her group’s most important sources for start-up innovation.
“Israel is very special,” she said. “We work with start-ups all over the world, but we have found many innovative ideas and companies in Israel. With 5,000 start-ups, more per capita than anywhere else, we have found some wonderful companies to form partnerships with.”
One of those, Boulanger said, was Waze. “Now they have been acquired by Google, but we worked with them extensively” before the buyout, she said.
Orange is interested in a wide range of Israeli technologies, Boulanger said. “Security is an area many Israeli start-ups specialize in,” she said. “We also work extensively with Israeli start-ups in video and TV.”
Orange several years ago acquired Orca (now Viaccess-Orca), a company that develops services for mobile TV. “A new service they are developing, for example, will allow viewers to synchronize content between two screens, like a phone and a tablet.” That’s the kind of innovation that will help Orange, Boulanger said, and it’s the kind of thing the company finds in Israel.
It’s not just tech start-ups that UK companies are interested in. Several weeks ago, a delegation of 17 top executives in the UK water industry were in Israel to explore new technologies in waste treatment, water desalination, water reclamation, and other environmental areas. Among the British companies visiting WaTec, the water and environmental technology show in Tel Aviv held in mid-October, were, among others, United Utilities, Arup, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, British Water, and food giant Unilever, said Yoni Dolgin, Cleantech Manager at UK Israel Tech Hub at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv. “Israel is a world leader in desalination, wastewater and IT management of water networks, so of course UK and European countries in general are interested in working with Israel.”
Enhancing business ties between Israel and the UK is the job of the UK Israel Tech Hub, said Hub director Naomi Krieger Carmy.
“Our focus is promoting commercial partnership, to make connections and show Israeli companies opportunities in the UK,” she said. “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.”
Co-chaired by Marc Worth and Yossi Vardi, Innovate Israel 2013 will be produced by global publishing and events company AcreWhite in partnership with the UK Israel Business chambers of commerce. Daniel Seal, CEO of AcreWhite said, “We have a dynamic range of companies enrolled with just a few spots left. We are delighted to welcome Orange, BT and JT especially, as indication of the serious consideration being given to Israeli technologies by these major corporations.”
Co-chair and serial entrepreneur, Yossi Vardi, said “Israel produces the highest rate of start-ups and new technologies per capita than any other country. In a country with a population of less than 8 million, it is logical that any company with aspirations of growth must look to expand abroad.”