The UK and Israel have enjoyed many years of collaboration in the fields of tech and business, and today, there are more organizations than ever that promote joint work between the two countries. The UK and Israel are a natural partnership. As a modernized country that’s relatively close, the UK is a great market for Israeli products, and it’s also a source that Israeli startups turn to for investors. On the flip side, Israel is known as an international development hub, which makes it an ideal choice for British business people who need R&D for their own companies. Additionally, Israel's success in building technology companies has generated significant wealth in the country. As a result world class global investment firms such as UK based Schroders have had an active, positive presence in Israel, further strengthening relations between both countries.
How exactly does collaboration between the two countries take place? Here’s a look at four organizations that are making it happen.
UK Israel Business
Founded in 1950, UK Israel Business is a non-profit organization that operates as a platform for connections, insights, and trade information for tech and business people in the two countries. One of the organization’s highlights is its annual Innovate Israel summit, which brings together business executives from both countries to discuss the most pressing current issues and to network. Innovate Israel 2019 focused on innovations in the fields of AI, big data, cybersecurity, quantum computing, robotics, blockchain, and health tech.
EUREKA is an intergovernmental network that was launched in 1985 with the goal of supporting market-oriented R&D and innovation projects across many countries. It currently consists of 41 member states, including, of course, Israel and the UK. In 2018, EUREKA ran a joint funding competition to encourage UK businesses to apply for up to £1 million to work with Israeli partner companies. The proposed projects had to include a goal of creating a new product or developing innovative technology for a global audience.
UK Israel Tech Hub
The UK Israel Tech Hub is a non-profit organization that operates out of the British Embassy in Israel. It was founded in 2011 by the British government with the goal of driving economic growth. As mentioned above, Israel is a natural partner for any country that seeks economic growth through innovative technology, and the Hub is known for opening doors that might otherwise be closed in both the British and Israeli markets. In recent years, the Hub has focused on projects in the fast-growing fields of AI, IoT, chatbots, blockchain, smart cities, and smart industries.
The London Stock Exchange Group
The London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) has significantly increased its Israel activity in recent years. 26 Israeli companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange and have raised over $17.1 billion in equity through IPOs and follow-on offerings. These companies are now part of over 170 tech companies from 24 countries who are listed in London, representing an aggregate capitalization of ~$260 billion. As the LSEG presence in Israel continues to grow, its 4th annual Israel Capital Markets Conference taking place on December 5th in Tel Aviv is a prime example of its role as a bridge between the UK and Israeli market.
The Israel Innovation Authority
Formerly known as Office of the Chief Scientist, the Israel Innovation Authority has been a major facilitator of UK-Israel collaboration on the Israeli side. It was founded in 1974 as an independent public entity, and its goal is to actively seek and support innovation in Israel. It’s the Innovation Authority that provides most of the R&D grants that are awarded to Israeli companies, and it’s also the entity that pushes for international collaboration.
For example, the Authority was involved in the EUREKA competition discussed above. It also operates ISERD, the Israel-Europe Research & Innovation Directorate, which is the official contact point with the EU for promoting Israeli and European bilateral and multilateral innovation activities.
What does Brexit mean for UK-Israeli tech & business relations?
Brexit isn’t likely to change the way Israel and the UK collaborate. In fact, in February 2019, Israeli Minister of Economy Eli Cohen and UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox signed a trade agreement that will provide continuity in trade relations in a post-Brexit world.
The relationship can be summed up in a comment Fox made at the time of the signing, "relations between Britain and Israel are stronger than ever, with cooperation in trade and investment between the two countries at record levels...We expect trade and investment relations between the two countries to continue strengthening amid continued joint work in the future."