Tel Aviv, situated on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea, is the second largest city of Israel. Known as the economy center of Israel, Tel Aviv is also referred to as Israel’s “Silicon Valley”. Statistics suggest that there are on average 20 startups per square kilometer in Israel, and that the age of one thirds of Israel’s population ranges from 18 to 35. In addition, Tel Aviv is also the most expensive city in Middle East to live in.
The ratio of engineers to the total population and the ratio of investment in R&D to GDP in Israel is the highest around the world. Moreover, the ratio of export volume of technology-intensive products to the total export volume in Israel is 3/4, while the number of companies listed on the NASDAQ ranks the third globally. Since 2000, 8 Nobel Prize winners are Israeli… Israel, a country with a population of merely 8 million and land area of only 22,000 square kilometers, is a veritable innovation super power.
According to Geektime, 373 deals were completed by Israeli startups in 2015 and Israeli startups altogether raised USD 3.58 billion of financing, among which Chinese venture capitals invested USD 500 million. In the first quarter of 2016, Israeli venture firms raised USD 650 million. Amazing, isn’t it?
An increasing number of Chinese enterprises and investors have been eyeing on Israel. Besides BAT, other enterprises such as Lenovo have all been stepping on this tiny but thriving country. On May, 5th, 2016, Shenzhen-based Kuang-Chi Technology announced that it would invest USD 300 million to establish a Global Community of Innovation (GCI) in Israel. In the primary stage, it would invest USD 50 million and invest in Israeli and even global tech startups.
The office building of the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv. Israel is one of the few countries in the world that require military service for Israelis over the age of 18. So young Israelis will decide if they are going to college after they leave the army. To get better prepared for the hostility from surrounding countries, Israel’s army have to keep developing advanced and high-tech weapons, and then put military technologies into civil use. Therefore, many leading Israeli entrepreneurs used to serve in Israel’s elite forces.
Yuval Mor, CEO of speech & mood analysis company Beyond Verbal, used to serve in Israel’s elite intelligence organization 8200. According to him, the algorithm his team had been developing could analyze people’s mood, character and spot any slight change of mood based on people’s speech and voice. In a roadmap speech for a Chinese delegation, Mr. Yuval prepared a speech by Jack Ma and demonstrated how the algorithm worked. “We’ve already prepared 2 million pieces of voice, covering all major languages including Chinese,” Mr. Yuval explained. As a matter of fact, his research started two decades ago.
An office of wework in Tel Aviv. The Group Innovation Space has altogether 4 offices across Israel. Over 1,800 entrepreneurs and employees work in these four offices.
According to Ronnie Ceder, a manager of wework, her biggest duty is to serve the need of entrepreneurs and help them primarily focused on expanding businesses and seeking for financial support. Different from Chinese GISs, wework couldn’t receive any government subsidies, since only startups are entitled to government subsidies.
Office rooms that can hold from one person to lots of people at the same time are available at wework.
Lots of investors and investment organizations can be found at wework, so a startup team can receive from seed investment to A & B round from other companies at the same floor.
Medical big data team medint’s office at wework. According to Tanya (the second person from the left), one of the co-founders of medint, their job is to acquire the sea of real-time medical data from all kinds of channels, analyze it and provide patients diagnosed with cancer or chronic disease and doctors with proper analysis for reference.
Ran Nussbaum, founder of Israeli venture capital fund Pontifax, had close relationship with China. Focused in life science, he led the cooperation with Chinese investment organization between FOSUN and Pontifax, which was established back in 2004. Every day, Mr. Ran is looking for startups that can cure patients and change the world.
It was May, 5th, 2016, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Memorial Day. A piece of local newspaper at Tel Aviv issued a special feature to remind readers of the tragedy. In the above picture, the Hebrew title means “We shouldn’t be slaughtered again”. At 10:00 AM, Sirens sounded across Israel Monday to mark a moment of silence to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The two-minute siren at 10 AM is an annual tradition in observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day. The traffic stopped, and people would get out of their cars and put away their work, paused and lowered their heads in remembrance of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War Two.
Office of Eyesight, a company focused on the R&D of robotic eyesight technology. Kuang-Chi’s delegation was waiting for a presentation of the company’s robotic eyesight technology, which allowed human beings to control all kinds of machines through simple gestures. Ruopeng Liu, chairman of Kuang-Chi’s board, announced that it would invest USD 20 million in Eyesight, in hopes of introducing the company’s technology to the IoT, robots and automobiles.
After the presentation, Gideon Shmuel, CEO of Eyesight, gathered all the R&D members and met the Chinese investors for the first time.
Office of Eyesight’s R&D engineers
On the evening of May, 5th, Kuang-Chi announced that the establishment of its Global Community of Innovation (GCI) in Tel Aviv. “We would invest USD 300 million in total, and USD 50 million in the primary stage to invest in all kinds of Israeli and even global tech startups,” said Mr. Liu.
The person above in the picture is one of the few Chinese in Tel Aviv. After graduating from Tel Aviv University, Wei Chen joined an Israeli venture capital organization called Lool Ventures and became an investment manager. According to her, Israel’s investment group was quite familiar with the recent development in high-tech circle and many of them were experts in the field. In addition, most local startups were primarily focused on life science, medicine and high-tech, and most leading entrepreneurs used to serve in the same troop, so they trusted each other a great deal. Moreover, most startups are focused on 2B business, since the Israeli market was too small. Generally, she evaluated two or three startup projects every day, and her primary focus lied in IoT, new media, TMT, digital finance, etc.
Uri Schneider is an Israeli entrepreneur. His product is a video social networking app called TVibes. During the Spring Festival of 2016, he was introduced to meet with a Chinese investment organization. “They said that they had invested in Baidu, and was looking forward to investing in my product, but I didn’t hear from them anymore after the Spring Festival,” Uri said. However, he didn’t lose faith in Chinese investors. “I will still go to China to find investors,” he said.
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Translated by Garrett Lee (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.