(photo credit: REUTERS)
The usual mix of international companies, startups, government representatives and investors descended on Tel Aviv for the annual DLD Innovation Festival, a celebration that has become the central event of Israel’s innovation week.
Amidst all the hubbub of schmoozing and networking, two major Asian companies announced the launch of accelerators in Israel.
The first was South Korea’s mobile giant Samsung, which launched the Tel Aviv version of its NEXT accelerator on Tuesday, following the opening of its Global Innovation Center (GIC) here on Sunday.
“The decision to open our Israeli office is rooted in the region’s strong startup ecosystem and world class talent,” said David Eun, president of Samsung’s GIC.
“The country also has a proven track record of software and services innovation and a deep expertise in areas that are particularly interesting to us,” he added.
The center will provide an average of $1 million in funding to Israeli companies, and potentially more through its 24-month Entrepreneur in Residence program.
“We want to help Israeli software companies grow by leveraging Samsung’s unique expertise and scale,” said Eyal Miller, managing director and CEO of Samsung GIC Tel Aviv.
Not far away, at the edge of Rothschild Boulevard, Chinese accelerator TechCode prepared for the Wednesday announcement of two new accelerator programs, one for Artificial intelligence and the other for Medical Devices.
“We chose this place without even having to think about it. It’s a very unique place that you can’t copy anywhere else. People here have a unique mentality,” said Holo Zheng, the general manager of TechCode’s Israel China Innovation Center, which opened its doors in March.
Both of the three-month programs will run concurrently with seven sister programs at Tech- Code’s international branches in Berlin, Seoul, Silicon Valley and locations around China.
The seven companies accepted to each of the three-month accelerators will be trained to pitch to Chinese investors and to seek partnerships in China.
“We want companies that know how to get money, have done it before, but need to learn how to do it with a Chinese investor,” said Aviram Sela, the local Program Manager at TechCode. The companies will receive consultation and advice in how to navigate intellectual property, engineering, regulation, and clinical issues in China.
For Zheng, one of the main benefits is the interaction between the various branches of the accelerator.
“With such a big network we dilute the cost, and the network creates the value,” she said.
Though the amount being invested in Tel Aviv was confidential, she added, the benefit in potential investment – of which TechCode takes a small slice – is worth it.
Dr. Claire W. Sha, a managing partner at AriMed Advisors, a Chinese investment firm focused on medical tech, said she liked what she had seen so far in Tel Aviv.
“I’m working in the health space, and I heard they were opening an incubator here, so I thought I should come and see what’s happening in Tel Aviv. So far, it’s great,” she said.