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Israel: “The New Hot Spot for Australian Start-Ups”

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Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

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Great coverage of the growing interconnectivity between the Israeli and Australian innovation ecosystems in The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 November 2016. 

Excerpts from the article by Catherine Armitage:

Up to 40 Australian trade delegations have visited Israel this year: “a record for sure”, says commissioner Ethy Levy of the Israel Trade and Economic Commission in Australia. NSW Premier Mike Baird led one in April; Greater Sydney Commission chief commissioner and prime ministerial spouse Lucy Turnbull led one in May.

A further deluge of Australians hit in late September, coinciding with the city’s annual DLD Innovation Festival in Tel Aviv where start-ups, governments, multinationals and venture capitalists from all over the world congregate in search of deals. At least six separate delegations including from Telstra, the AMP, Visy Industries and the Trans-Tasman Business Circle toured the start-up capital’s innovation ecosystem.

The upsurge in interest has coincided with the end of the commodities boom and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s personal commitment with the billion-dollar National Innovation and Science Agenda launched last December.

The delegations find doors wide open to the local ecosystem of more than 290 local venture capital, angel investor and micro funds; 350-plus megabrand multinationals like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Samsung; 25 start-up incubators; 70 accelerators and 5000 start-ups, as well as 282 research and development centres, mostly operated by multinationals.

Treasurer Scott Morrison has announced the two countries are negotiating a tax treaty aimed at improving trade and business links between the two countries.

The Commonwealth Bank signed a deal last year with the Israeli Office of the Chief Scientist which gives it privileged introduction to emerging technologies from Israeli start-ups in areas relevant to its operations.

There is a growing trend for Israeli tech companies to list on the Australian Stock Exchange. Five have done so since January 2015, including satellite communications company Sky and Space Global and data storage company Weebit Nano Ltd. A further three are expected to list by the end of the year, ASX general manager of listings Max Cunningham told the Times of Israel. Levy says another 10-15 are looking at it.

Australian venture capital firm Square Peg Capital has set up an Israeli office and reportedly intends to spend nearly $200 million on Israeli growth-stage online and technology companies over three to five years. The firm took a delegation of more than 40 technology entrepreneurs, investors and executives to Israel last year, which included one of its lead investors, James Packer.

An estimated 400 people attended The Bridge, an Israel-Australia Investment Summit, held in Sydney in November. Speakers included Dov Moran of Grove Ventures, inventor of the USB flash drive, Paul Bassat of Square Peg Capital, and Amnon Shashua of Mobileye, the Israeli Nasdaq-traded global leader in driver assistance and autonomous driving technologies. Levy of the Israel Trade and Economic Commission said the summit had led to negotiations on new deals worth “very conservatively” several million dollars between Australian and Israeli companies.

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