UK embeds a hub and an envoy in Israeli enterprise
This posting has 6 items:
1) Times of Israel: Britain appoints special technology ambassador to Israel;
2) Conservative Friends of Israel: CFI’s Year in Review, extract;
3) FCO: Purpose of the tech hub;
4) JPost: London hosts conference touting Israeli innovation;
5) Times of Israel: High-tech diplomacy puts Israel and UK on the same page (so stop worrying about boycott);
6) JPost: British hi-tech hub, Israeli start-ups look to partner This is the start of the project;
UK prime minister personally announced appointment of ‘tech envoy’ Saul Klein
By David Shamah, Times of Israel
December 12, 2012
Relations between Israel and the United Kingdom are generally good, despite the diplomatic flareups that make for bombastic headlines. In the day to day, both countries collaborate on a wide variety of projects in the defense, political, and social welfare areas — as well as in technology. In fact, as far as London is concerned, the latter category is important enough that the government announced Tuesday that it was appointing a special technology ambassador to Israel.
Britain was the first — and still the only — country to established a special government-sponsored mission in Israel, called the UK-Israel Tech Hub, to deal specifically with programs that will facilitate cooperation between Israeli and UK companies, universities, and institutions to develop leading-edge technology in computers, networks, medical devices and technology, and other high-tech areas. That program has been so successful — and important — to London that Prime Minister David Cameron himself announced the appointment of British businessman Saul Klein to the post of tech envoy to Israel, an appointment Cameron said he hoped would further enhance tech relations between the two countries.
Announcing the appointment Tuesday, Cameron said that the UK “wants to work much more closely with Israel on innovation and technology. That’s why a year ago we launched the UK-Israel tech hub at our embassy to link up with UK Israel Business, the Israeli Embassy here in London and countless talented young people in both our countries. I am delighted to announce today that we are appointing Saul Klein, someone with huge experience in early-stage investment, to be the UK’s first tech envoy to Israel.”
That the prime minister himself would personally announce such an appointment is impressive — but just as impressive is the fact that Cameron is apparently keeping track of the breadth and depth of those relations.
“Just last week the Tech Hub and the UK Trade & Investment organization brought over 19 Israeli tech companies over here to meet the best of British companies and investors,” the prime minister said.
Lest one think that Cameron was “going through the motions” and reading a prepared statement for some political purpose, Matthew Gould, the UK’s ambassador to Israel, said that the government in London sees developing tech relations between Israel and Britain as a top priority.
In fact, Gould said at a recent event hosting British and Israeli start-ups, it is “one of the things I, and the government, care most about.”
“Israel is full of disruptive and innovative technology,” he said. “If we could bring just a portion of that technology to Britain, instead of to Silicon Valley where much of it goes now, it would do wonders for the UK economy.”
Partnering with British tech companies, said Gould, was a smart move for Israeli start-ups, too. “It’s about building partnerships, and a relationship on something positive, a much better situation for me as ambassador, allowing me to focus on the positive things instead of the differences and disagreements between our countries,” he said.
And now, Gould will get some help in managing those tech relations, as Klein, a British venture capitalist, takes on the job of tech ambassador, and directorship of the UK-Israel Tech Hub. Among his activities, Klein founded the Seedcamp organization to help European entrepreneurs successfully build technology businesses, was part of the original executive team at Skype, and has invested in dozens of successful start-ups — all of which made him the right choice for the job, said Cameron.
Commenting on his appointment, Klein said: “I have worked in tech in both the UK and Israel, and I know that there is a huge potential synergy between our two tech economies. Britain could get a huge economic boost by partnering up with Israeli tech. Israeli innovation could benefit from using Britain’s global reach, world-class companies, our scientific base, our capital markets and our business development expertise. So I am excited to be appointed Britain’s tech envoy to Israel. It’s appropriate that our first ever Tech Envoy should be to the Start-Up nation, and I look forward to helping build the tech partnership that ought to exist between us.”
CFI’s Year in Review
Extract from Review of 2012, Conservative Friends of Israel website
David Cameron at the CFI business lunch, 2012
The Conservative-led Government continued to strengthen its bilateral relationship with Israel. The Government showed support for Israel throughout Operation Pillar of Defence with assertions that Hamas bears “principal responsibility” for the violence and strong condemnation of rocket fired into Israel from Gaza. The Government pledged to support the renewal of direct peace talks, without preconditions, in 2013. In the traditional security sphere, Britain worked closely with Israel on issues like Iran’s nuclear activities. The focal point of the bolstered relationship has been the record-breaking economic partnership, spearheaded by the British Embassy’s UK-Israel Tech Hub.
Purpose of the tech hub
From the British FCO’s dedicated UK in Israel website
1. The UK-Israel Tech Hub aims to position the UK as a natural partner of choice for Israel in technology, and ensure the UK market can make full use of the breadth and quality of Israeli R&D and innovation.
2. Its creation, in October 2011, followed an agreement between Prime Ministers David Cameron and Benjamin Netanyahu to build a UK-Israel partnership in technology. The Hub’s mission is to promote that partnership, as a means to boost innovation and economic growth in both countries.
3. The Hub team brings experience in technology, business and finance; and focuses on six key areas: Digital, Life Sciences, Cleantech, Arab tech, Fintech and Government technology. The Hub’s objectives include:
o Defining key sectors for UK/Israel collaboration;
o Identifying and bringing innovative Israeli technology and R&D to British companies;
o Positioning the UK in Israel as a centre for technological and services innovation and as a partner of choice for Israeli technology companies; and,
o Tying Israeli technology players into UK capital markets.
4. The UK has a thriving tech sector, two years ago the Government committed to support the growing tech cluster in East London known as Tech City, there are now over 1300 companies there. Last week the Government announced a £50m investment towards a visionary project to regenerate the Old Street roundabout, which will see it transformed into Europe’s largest indoor civic space, dedicated to start-ups and entrepreneurs in East London. This new civic building will host classrooms, co-working spaces and workshops equipped with the latest 3D printing technology, for use by both the local start-ups and the wider community.
5. This appointment will be unpaid, and will be part of the Business Ambassador network, supported by UKTI.
Any assumption that the UK is a fertile ground for the boycott campaign against Israel was laid to rest.
By Jonny Paul, JPost
June 28, 2012
Any assumption that the UK is a fertile ground for the boycott campaign against Israel was laid to rest on Tuesday as London hosted one of Europe’s largest hi-tech conferences aimed at enhancing the strong connection between the UK and Israel in innovation.
Held in central London, Innovate Israel 2012 was attended by over 500 business leaders, investors, decision makers and government representatives.
Attending the event, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub said: “The most powerful response to the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign – which seeks to drive a wedge between Britain and Israel – is to deepen that relationship. Innovate Israel, which is advancing the tremendous potential for hi-tech partnerships between British and Israeli companies, does exactly that.
“It is an opportunity to explore that potential and discover new ways to work together to promote innovation, growth and jobs in both countries,” he said.
The event was organized by UK Israel Business, a London-based organization helping emerging business and investment opportunities in the two countries, Israel’s Embassy in London and the Israel Export and Cooperation Institute.
In attendance was Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Shalom Simhon and British Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries Ed Vaizey, who earlier in the year led a delegation of top executives from the UK’s media and creative industries to Israel.
Simhon told The Jerusalem Post that technology and innovation has no boundaries and that Israel has many ideas on how to expand economic activity between Israel and the Palestinians.
“We need to invest the good energies not the bad energies to develop cooperation between Israel, Britain and the Palestinians. We speak to many international companies and encourage them to take part in collaboration between Israel and the Palestinians. We will be happy to see British companies joining these joint ventures.”
Speaking about the conference, Simhon said it “puts on the map our desire to collaborate and work closer with Britain.” He added that new media is only one area “but you can imagine the other areas in which Israel has much to offer so we can work closely with Britain.” Vaizey paid tribute to the relationship between Britain and Israel and said there is much for both countries to do together in the area of investment, research and development.
“There is a natural bond between the two countries and the British government is a great supporter of Israel,” the minister said.
With over 34 growth stage Israeli companies and start-ups, the one-day conference allowed participants to engage, network and uncover opportunities coming out of Israel.
“Never before has there been so much excitement, enthusiasm and desire to bridge the gap between Israel and the UK and develop deeper, stronger, profitable and long-lasting relationships,” said Marc Worth and Yossi Vardi, co-chairmen of Innovate Israel.
According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, bilateral trade between the UK and Israel increased by almost 38%, from $3.7 billion in 2010 to $5.1 billion in 2011.
The UK currently stands as Israel’s fourth greatest trading partner behind the US, China and Germany. In the first third of 2012, bilateral trade between the two countries was 42% higher than for the same period in 2011.
In February 2011 the British government called to “encourage a stronger partnership between British and Israeli companies in innovation, high technology and science.” Worth and Vardi added: “This is the core of what the future partnership between the UK and Israel should be, matching the innovation and technological brilliance of Israel, the “start-up nation”, with Britain’s skill and experience in building large successful companies.”
The event allowed Israeli start-up companies – interested in joint ventures, development and access to capital – to showcase their products. Throughout the day, the event organizers scheduled one-to-one meetings between entrepreneurs and interested parties. Over 170 meetings took place with the target of nurturing cooperation, furthering collaboration and establishing bilateral ties.
The Israeli organizations had a first-hand opportunity to network with major British and European firms keen to uncover opportunities in the latest technological advancements coming out of Israel.
“The standard of Israel technology on display, the list of world class speakers and the senior UK decision makers present is unprecedented, making this Europe’s premier Israel-focused web, mobile and digital media conference,” said Noah Shani, Trade and Economics attaché at the embassy.
“Innovate Israel is not just about the Israeli sparkle. Equally important are the entrepreneurs and business leaders from the UK who are here to meet with their Israeli counterparts and engage in real dialogue with the intention of pursuing collaboration and partnership,” he added.
The UK is very keen to promote relationships betwen Israeli start-ups and British entrepreneurs, ignoring the politics that usually frame the relationship between the two countries
By David Shamah, Times of Israel
October 30, 2012
Israel and Britain may have their differences, but there’s one issue that both sides enthusiastically see eye-to-eye on: making money, specifically in the area of high-tech. To that end, the UK has set up a technology center at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, with six full-time employees — the only such facility sponsored by any government at its embassy anywhere in the world — that is dedicated to encouraging partnerships between Israeli and British high-tech companies.
The center is called the UK-Israel Tech Hub. Established a year ago, the Hub last week culminated its most ambitious project so far: the selection of 15 Israeli start-ups to participate in its TeXchange program, which entails a free trip to London to become familiar with the London high-tech scene. There, they will meet other entrepreneurs involved in a variety of start-ups, and have a chance to check out incubators and other programs sponsored by the British government to help out young companies.
There has been a fair amount of tech cooperation between Israeli and British companies, especially in the areas of biotech and environmental technology, but the TexChange program is concentrating on spaces where new start-ups are likely to be working — gaming, adtech, mobile, e-commerce, social media and video, said Lucy Blechner, digital manager of the Tech Hub. “Israel is small but has a vast amount of knowledge and experience in high-tech and in start-ups,” she told The Times of Israel. “We believe that the innovation in Israel will help push forward the British economy and help us to develop new industries.”
What’s in it for Israeli companies? “We offer access to markets in the UK and Europe that Israeli companies would probably not have had access to,” said Blechner. In addition, the British government is prepared to provide help to Israeli companies in finding affordable office and development space, connections in industry, and so on. And the Tech Hub is not just a project of a small group in the British Embassy in Tel Aviv; the outreach to Israeli start-ups has wide support in the British government, to the extent that Tech Hub was inaugurated by no less than George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, on his visit here last year.
The 15 TexChange winners will visit London next month on a three-day trip, where they will participate in “Meet the Customer” and “Meet the Investor” events set up with leading British firms, attend tech networking events, experience mentoring sessions with industry gurus, and participate in a tour of London’s “Tech City,” where many of London’s new start-ups are located. The program also brings British entrepreneurs to Israel to meet their entrepreneurial counterparts and identify collaboration opportunities, a Tech Hub official said.
A group of 50 British entrepreneurs, members of the ICE (International Conclave of Entrepreneurs) group, visited Israel last week to participate in the many tech events surrounding the DLD (Digital Life Design) festival in Jaffa. Leading the group was Alex Hoye (CEO, Latitude Digital), who said that the group was “overwhelmed” by what they saw here. “We wanted to see what drives Israeli innovation,” he told The Times of Israel. “Israel has always had that edge.” The UK has a lot of advantages, at least on paper — but it has been nowhere as successful as Israel in developing high-tech companies. “We have a lot of innovation in areas like media and design, but we don’t push ourselves like the Israelis. We want and need more of the Israeli innovative spirit in Britain,” he said.
British entrepreneurs “don’t give a fig about politics,” said Chris, one of the members of the ICE delegation. “The bottom line for all of us entrepreneurs, Israeli and British, is the bottom line — how to make money, how to promote our technologies.” Perhaps surprisingly, Chris wasn’t even aware of the large BDS (boycott, divestment, sanction) movement against Israel in the UK; when asked about the politics of having a relationship with Israel, he focused on the possibility of war between Israel and Iran, saying that “I personally am not scared of that. But regarding the politics of the Palestinian issue, most of us in the tech community don’t even think about it. “There are two sides to every political story,” Chris told The Times of Israel, “and the governments are the ones who are involved in the politics. We in the business world are involved in business.”
With the goal of bringing together Israeli and British entrepreneurs, the Tech Hub organized an event that had the ICE delegation, the TexChange winners, and dozens of Israeli entrepreneurs meet and greet, with the event presided over by Britain’s Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould. And out of all the things he does as ambassador, Gould told the entrepreneurs, “promoting tech cooperation between Israel and Britain is the thing I care about most.
“Why are we investing so much time and effort into this? Because, when I first took this post, I saw what the ICE group saw — that Israel is full of innovative and disruptive technology,” said Gould. Israeli companies would certainly benefit from their relationship with London-based start-ups, said Gould. “Britain has so much to offer a start-up, including research facilities and access to markets,” as well as the fact that “we are both practically in the same time zone, an important factor for the young families that are usually involved in start-ups.”
But it would be Britain that would be the big winner in this relationship. “If we could just persuade a portion of the Israeli companies that see their future in Silicon Valley to come to London, it would be great for the British economy,” the ambassador said. And it would make his own job much more pleasant. “In the high-tech world, the relationship is not about the differences between our countries, but about building a positive relationship — to do something that helps both Israel and Britain.”
Israeli hi-tech companies could soon be turning to London instead of Silicon Valley if new initiative launched by British Embassy in TA proves successful.
By Nadav Shemer, JPost
November 01, 2011
Some time in 2011: from left, Adee Matan, Science and Innovation Officer at the British Embassy, Matthew Gould, British Ambassador, David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, unnamed man with a big moustache. Photo released from British Embassy in Israel intended to illustrate development of Britain’s hi-tech links with Israel. [Our caption]
Israeli hi-tech companies with global ambitions could soon be turning to London instead of California’s Silicon Valley if a new initiative launched by the British Embassy in Tel Aviv proves successful.
The Hi-Tech Hub @ the British Embassy will promote the United Kingdom’s economic growth by creating technological partnerships between the UK and Israel. Launched last week, it will employ six staff members, including experts in the fields of digital, cleantech, biotech and the Arab-Israeli hi-tech community.
British Minister of State for Universities and Science David Willetts was in Israel this week to promote the hub with a delegation of leaders in digital technology, including venture capitalists. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was also here over the weekend, in between meetings of European finance ministers, to support the initiative.
The coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron has prioritized technological cooperation with Israel, after years of neglect by previous governments, Willetts told The Jerusalem Post during an interview at the British ambassador’s residence in Ramat Gan on Sunday.
“We realize we’ve got some catching up to do,” he said. “A lot of Israeli entrepreneurs, as soon as they think about going international – and, of course, with Israel that happens very early on – they tend to look straight away to the west coast of the US. And I’m here to try to get them to think at least about the option of an operation in London.”
“We have a network of venture- capital finance that is keen to back start-ups,” Willetts said. “We have a concentration of great universities. We have all the services in London that any business needs, [such as] finance and law. And we also, of course, are a window to the world… Almost every major company has a London operation.”
Pointing to London’s Tech City, the technology hub of about 200 firms in the city’s East End, Willetts said the government is prioritizing hitech. The UK is expanding technological cooperation with the BRIC group of countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), he said, adding that the hi-tech hub in Israel was a first. Israel’s small entrepreneurs reminded him of those at the Tech City.
In addition to promoting the hi-tech hub, Willetts also signed key deals this week to expand academic exchanges.
On Sunday, he and Chief Scientist Avi Hasson agreed to establish a hi-tech council that they will jointly chair. On Monday, he and Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz announced the establishment of BIRAX – the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership in Regenerative Medicine. Britain’s Medical Research Council and Israel’s Science and Technology Ministry will provide matching funding of up to £50,000 (NIS 293,000) each for the new scheme. Willetts said it might also be possible to obtain European funding for joint research programs.
He also held a roundtable discussion with Palestinian entrepreneurs in Ramallah on Monday. He called the discussion “a brainstorming session about Palestinian-British ICT business links,” saying he would welcome the possibility of expanding three-way business links between the UK, the Palestinians and Israel.
Willetts rejected the suggestion that anti-Israel boycott campaigns in the UK would affect government policy, saying: “I know it’s a source of concern [in Israel], and that’s one of the reasons I came here… I’m here to make it absolutely clear that Israelis are very warmly welcome in the UK.”
If anything, the British government is only increasing economic cooperation with Israel, he said, citing his and the Osborne’s visits this week. Culture and Communications Minister Edward Vaizey plans to lead a delegation to Israel early next year, he added.