Germany’s Volkswagen Group on Tuesday officially opened its “innovation campus” in Tel Aviv, which will be the focus of its research and development activities in Israel.
The campus has already started operations in Israel, via which the German automotive giant is partnering with local entrepreneurs and startups to develop autonomous vehicles and mobility, big data and cybersecurity technologies.
Called Konnect, the campus is based in Tel Aviv, and will enable local startups to get access to the group and its brands. The campus will promote business cooperations and support the development of new technologies, with Volkswagen experts mentoring and following the companies.
“I am a strong believer in the technological innovations being developed within the Israeli market and I am convinced that they can help us reach our goal of being one of the global market leaders in sustainable mobility,” said Peter Harris, chief customer officer, Volkswagen Group, at an inaugural event on Tuesday attended by Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen. “Konnect is another step in expanding our activities in Israel and will help our portfolio of brands engage with the Israeli startup ecosystem.”
Konnect is headed by Stephanie Reimann, who will lead a team to work with the group’s brands to conduct “focused scouting activities” within the Israeli market and identify, support and develop proof of concept projects with startups in various fields of mobility, the company said in a statement.
“The mission of Konnect is to connect, foster and accelerate the high-tech initiatives of the Volkswagen Group brands in the future within the Israeli ecosystem,” Reimann said.
In October, Harris announced the plans for the campus in Israel, saying it would operate in a similar manner to the Volkswagen Group’s 39 Centers of Competence and IT labs that are located in Europe, North America and Asia.
The Israeli campus will be looking for solutions in a variety of fields, including sensors, simulation, connectivity, smart navigation, cybersecurity, e-mobility and big data, said Johann Jungwirth, chief digital officer of the Volkswagen Group.
On Wednesday, the Volkswagen Group will showcase Konnect’s activities and services at the Ecomotion conference in Tel Aviv.
Konnect is already supporting 41 local start-ups with initiatives set up around the future of mobility. At the conference, selected entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to present their ideas to a professional jury of VW experts who will choose one winning startup. The winner will then spend six months at the “Gläserne Manufaktur” or Transparent Factory in Dresden and will benefit from professional mentorship and exposure to Volkswagen Brand development divisions and investors, the statement said.