A high-tech bridge between London and Israel

The UK’s TexChange program will bring the spirit of the Start-Up Nation to UK investors and corporations

UK guests of a New Media and Creative Industries seminar 'Working with Israel' workshop at the British Ambassador to Israel's residence. (Photo credit: Mati Milstein/British Embassy)
UK guests of a New Media and Creative Industries seminar 'Working with Israel' workshop at the British Ambassador to Israel's residence. (Photo credit: Mati Milstein/British Embassy)

Israel’s got the technology, and Britain has the markets — or at least access to them. Why not bring the two together, letting British companies get access to Israeli start-up technology, to bring new products and services to existing and new markets?

That’s the logic behind a new effort launched by the UK Israel Tech Hub and UK Trade and Investment group at the British Embassy Israel, together with London-based Tech City Investment Organization. The project, called TexChange, will bring Israeli entrepreneurs to London (and other UK locations) to meet with entrepreneurs, investors, and other tech people.

The first group of 15 companies is set to be selected in the coming days, said Naomi Krieger, director of the UK Israel Tech Hub, and the first event will take place in November. Later on, she said, the program will bring British business and tech people to Israel to meet with entrepreneurs and start-ups, she added, with exchanges taking place three to four times a year.

“The idea is to create an ongoing flow of Israeli entrepreneurs to the UK and vice versa,” said Krieger. “It will create a platform for collaboration of entrepreneurs and companies, giving British corporations a route to benefit from Israeli technological innovation, and tying Israeli companies to the UK’s leading companies, markets and service providers.”

The proof that Britain is a worthwhile place for Israeli entrepreneurs to invest their time and energy in cultivating ties with — as opposed to the US, or even the up and coming countries of the Far East — is in the numbers, Krieger said. A recent report by the Boston Consulting Group ranks the UK tops worldwide in size of its Internet Economy, with online retail nearly three times as strong as in the US, and online advertising penetration nearly double that in America.

“Also we have the advantage of language – most Israelis know –English — making it much easier to do business here than in China or other Far Eastern countries.

The program is targeted at start-ups and entrepreneurs working in the hottest technologies, including gaming, advertising technology, mobile technology, e-commerce, video, convergence, social media, convergence technology, and other cutting-edge areas. Participants will attend tech networking events, have mentoring sessions with industry gurus, and meet professionals in their industries. Much of the action will take place in London’s new East End “Tech City,” which many in the UK hope will pick up the slack in City of London financial firms, caused by the recession.

That recession is much on the minds of entrepreneurs and investors, and perhaps even more on their minds today are the serious problems in Europe’s economies. But as the UK is not a member of the Euro zone, Krieger said, it is a much more stable country financially, and certainly worth a look by Israeli entrepreneurs, Krieger said.

“Despite the tremendous opportunities for Israeli internet start-ups in the UK, many of them feel they don’t know how to start doing business there. In a few focused days, TeXchange will give the best of them the contacts and tools they need to get started.”

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