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Tel Aviv, playground of OEMs

The Silicon Valley of the Middle East: such is the moniker given to Israel’s capital, where start-ups seem to mushroom around the well-established international tech companies. Like no other city, Tel Aviv makes for a fertile environment that gives tiny little plants everything they need to grow into fruit-bearing trees, not least in the field of advanced driver assistance systems and connectivity.

In 2016, Tel Aviv’s start-up ecosystem was ranked third in the world by venture capital firm SparkLabs Global Ventures, after Silicon Valley (California, US) and Stockholm (Sweden). New York and Los Angeles round up the top five, incidentally (source: nocamels.com). Moreover, Israel was named the second-most innovative nation in the world by the World Economic Forum, after Switzerland. It has the highest number of start-ups per capita. 

Creativity, flex space and capital galore
There are several key elements contribute to this enviable position. For starters, Tel Aviv has an acclaimed academic environment offering state-of-the-art technical infrastructure, attracting and developing engineering talent. Moreover, the city nurtures an entrepreneurial spirit, for instance by offering a multitude of collaborative workspaces can be rented on a monthly basis stimulating young creative people to give their idea a go and interact with peers.

Equally important is the abundance of investment capital provided by institutions, multinational corporations, venture capital firms and development programmes. There are 50-odd start up accelerators and incubators, providing financial support, business guidance and interaction with established international tech firms. Examples of local accelerators are Create Tel Aviv, Elevator and AOL-owned Nautilus. The latter provides assistance during one year in the shape of fundraising, business strategy and product development.

Leading automotive R&D
Dozens of large international corporations have set foot in Israel’s capital city. Google, HP, Apple, Microsoft, Intel, IBM: they all have offices and R&D centres in the throbbing tech heart of the Middle East, because this is where the talent is. Areas in which Tel Aviv – and Israel in general – excels, are artificial intelligence, big data analytics, IoT and data security.

Indeed, these are essential to the development of new automotive and mobility applications. A recent example comes from BMW and Jerusalem-based advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) expert Mobileye. They have reached an agreement to crowd-source real-time vehicle camera data for mapping purposes to develop automated driving technology.

Also jumping on the Tel Aviv innovation train are Honda and Volvo, which together with local telematics company Ituran and Hertz International jointly opened a smart car accelerator called DRIVE. Uniting resources in order to locate and support the most promising start-ups in the field of smart mobility, DRIVE wants to provide the opportunity to pilot groundbreaking, out of the box initiatives.

As the list of such tantalising initiatives keeps on growing, so is the urge for OEMs to set up camp in Israel if they have not done so already.  
  05/04/2017  |  Dieter Quartier

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