At the biggest-ever Israel-China investment event ever, being held in Beijing this week, the recent woes on the Shanghai Stock Exchange are just a passing thought, according to Ophir Gore, commercial attaché of Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry in Beijing.
“Of course there’s concern, but events like the 7% slide in Shanghai stocks Monday just make events like this more important – for Israeli entrepreneurs, but also for Chinese investors. They realize that they need to diversify, and Israel, many believe, is a great place for them to diversify to.”
After recent successful investor conferences in Sydney and London, Israel is taking on Beijing, where some 2,000 people – half from Israel and half from China – were in attendance to discuss the opportunities for both sides in Israel’s start-up industry. Among the participants are Chinese investment companies and venture capital funds, key figures in both the Israeli and Chinese the high-tech industry and academia, and the representatives of 85 Israeli technology companies in the area of life sciences, cleantech and advanced manufacturing.
Attending on the Israeli side are top government officials, like Infrastructures Minister Yuval Steinitz, as well as industry executives such as Shimon Eckhaus, founder of aesthetic technology firm Syneron, and Jonathan Medved, founder of crowdfunding platform OurCrowd. Among the Chinese investors attending are chairman of the Fosun Group Guo Guangchang; Sheng Fu, CEO of Cheetah Mobile; Liu Ji Ren, Chairman and CEO of Neusoft; and many others.
While Chinese investors are interested in the full range of Israeli tech, they are most intrigued by Israeli advances in mobile technology, medical devices, and cleantech, said Gore. All three of those areas are very important to the Chinese, as they try to connect more users in the countryside to national mobile networks, and seek solutions to assist their rapidly aging population and deal with the difficult urban pollution issues they face.
Doing business in China today is far different from even just a few years ago, said Gore, who, as the Israeli trade rep in Beijing, has a bird’s eye view of the business scene. “Israelis have learned to acclimate to the Chinese way of doing things, including being a bit more conservative and thoughtful when dealing with Chinese than they might be at home.”
The Chinese, meanwhile, have come to know the Israeli ways as well and are much more tolerant of the brash style Israelis often bring to the very conservative Chinese world – with that brashness seen nowadays as a sign of the Israeli penchant for creativity and “thinking outside the box,” said Gore. “Those are actually the qualities the Chinese admire in Israelis.”
The Economy Ministry’s Foreign Trade Administration, which Gore works for, has been working at an accelerated pace in the Chinese market in recent years, with diverse activities in the field of encouraging trade and market opening projects in China for Israeli companies. There are currently four trade attachés in China – in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong – as many as there are in the US, said Gore.
That activity was one of the motivations behind the conference – and the hopes of Israeli officials for success in a first-time ever project have been more than met.