UK investors to visit Israel on business opportunity quest
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UK investors to visit Israel on business opportunity quest

With Brexit underway, UK businesses scout for alternative markets; there are over 300 Israeli firms operating in the UK

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

National flags flutter near the The Elizabeth Tower, commonly referred to as Big Ben, in central London on June 9, 2017. AFP/ Glyn KIRK)
National flags flutter near the The Elizabeth Tower, commonly referred to as Big Ben, in central London on June 9, 2017. AFP/ Glyn KIRK)

More than 35 British investors will be part of a delegation that is starting a three-day visit to Israel this week, organized by the chamber of commerce UK Israel Business (UKIB), the largest delegation to date organized by the body, which aims to connect businesses in the two nations.

The delegation will hold meetings with firms hosted by Microsoft Ventures, Intel, and Barclays Rise Accelerator. Companies meeting the businessmen include listed companies such as Check Point Software Technologies and Wix.com; Israeli venture capital funds Grove Ventures Capital, Jerusalem Venture Partners, Vintage Investment Partners and OurCrowd and the founders of Mobileye, healthy.io, Mprest Systems and EarlySense alongside a number of earlier stage companies. The visitors will also meet Eugene Kandel, CEO of Start-up Nation Central, and British Ambassador David Quarrey.

Bradley Fried of Grovepoint Capital, who is also deputy chairman of the Bank of England, is leading the delegation on behalf of UKIB. Other investors on the mission include family offices, private investors and representatives from firms including JPMorgan Chase, Grovepoint Capital and Investec Bank plc.

“Israel is a hive of world-leading start-ups covering revolutionary ideas in robotics, digital health, driverless cars, drones, and cyber security,” Hugo Bieber, chief executive of UK Israel Business said in a statement.  “London’s status as a global financial hub and the English language is a major asset. The cultural affinity between Britain and Israel is also obvious. I feel very confident that there so many opportunities for British investors out there in the world, particularly in Israel. A potential 1,400 opportunities will be created from this trip alone.”

As Britain faces Brexit and the looming threat of financial institutions’ exit to other shores, the UK government is stepping up efforts to attract new investor interest in markets outside Europe.

The delegation follows the September Innovate Israel 2017 conference hosted in London by UKIB and the recent publication of “four asks” on Brexit, in which the UKIB made four request of the UK government and European Union officials regarding talks on Brexit – the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The requests were for the officials to set up a regulatory framework that ensures a smooth Brexit transition and on-going access to the EU market; ensuring a visa system that welcomes skilled Israeli experts to the UK; a comprehensive bilateral trade deal between the UK and Israel; and a rapid and straightforward customs process for UK importers and exporters of goods, especially fresh food and time-sensitive products.

Britain is still the number one destination for Israeli foreign direct investment in Europe, the UKIB said. There are now over 300 Israeli companies operating in the UK, and the London Stock Exchange is home to 28 Israeli companies with a combined market capitalization recently estimated to be worth $14 billion.

A further investment mission is being planned for spring 2018 along with other investor and sector delegations during 2018, the statement said.

Established in 1950, UK Israel Business (UKIB) aims to connect UK business to potential Israeli partners.

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