Israel sees Mobileye as world R&D center for self-driving cars

After Intel deal, Finance Ministry DG Shai Babad and Mobileye CEO Ziv Aviram discuss enlarging company’s Jerusalem campus

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Mobileye's CEO Ziv Aviram, left, and Shai Babad, director general of Israel's Finance Ministry (Courtesy)
Mobileye's CEO Ziv Aviram, left, and Shai Babad, director general of Israel's Finance Ministry (Courtesy)

Israel’s Finance Ministry said on Wednesday that its director general, Shai Babad and Mobileye CEO, Ziv Aviram, discussed enlarging the company’s R&D center in Jerusalem and transforming it into a campus for the development of automated vehicles.

The two also discussed proposals to help increase the amount of engineers and skilled workers to the Israeli high-tech industry, the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

“The growth of a company like Mobileye in Israel is a source of pride to the economy, and we are happy that it will continue to be based and develop in Israel and Jerusalem,” said Babad, who also took a spin in one of Mobileye’s automatic cars. “Mobileye can transform Israel into a world leader in autonomous vehicles, and generate a revolution in the car industry and save lives.”

Intel Corp. said on Monday it would buy the Jerusalem-based maker of chips for car cameras and driver-assistance features for $15 billion, and that the headquarters of its autonomous car activities would continue to operate from Jerusalem. The deal is the biggest exit of an Israeli tech company to date.

Israel’s high-tech sector, which has been a growth engine for the economy, is facing an acute shortage of engineers and programmers as students shy away from studying computer science, math and statistics.

This lack of skilled workers is highlighted even more by the burst of activity in the sector, which has almost doubled the number of companies operating locally in the past decade. There are about 1,000 new startups being set up in Israel every year, with workers often wanting the challenge of starting their own company rather than joining an existing one, and successful entrepreneurs returning to the market with new ventures.

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