Any assumption that the UK is a fertile ground for the boycott campaign against Israel was laid to rest on Tuesday as London hosted one of Europe’s largest hi-tech conferences aimed at enhancing the strong connection between the UK and Israel in innovation.

Held in central London, Innovate Israel 2012 was attended by over 500 business leaders, investors, decision makers and government representatives.

Attending the event, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub said: “The most powerful response to the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign – which seeks to drive a wedge between Britain and Israel – is to deepen that relationship. Innovate Israel, which is advancing the tremendous potential for hi-tech partnerships between British and Israeli companies, does exactly that.

“It is an opportunity to explore that potential and discover new ways to work together to promote innovation, growth and jobs in both countries,” he said.

The event was organized by UK Israel Business, a London-based organization helping emerging business and investment opportunities in the two countries, Israel’s Embassy in London and the Israel Export and Cooperation Institute.

In attendance was Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Shalom Simhon and British Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries Ed Vaizey, who earlier in the year led a delegation of top executives from the UK’s media and creative industries to Israel.

Simhon told The Jerusalem Post that technology and innovation has no boundaries and that Israel has many ideas on how to expand economic activity between Israel and the Palestinians.

“We need to invest the good energies not the bad energies to develop cooperation between Israel, Britain and the Palestinians. We speak to many international companies and encourage them to take part in collaboration between Israel and the Palestinians. We will be happy to see British companies joining these joint ventures.”

Speaking about the conference, Simhon said it “puts on the map our desire to collaborate and work closer with Britain.” He added that new media is only one area “but you can imagine the other areas in which Israel has much to offer so we can work closely with Britain.” Vaizey paid tribute to the relationship between Britain and Israel and said there is much for both countries to do together in the area of investment, research and development.

“There is a natural bond between the two countries and the British government is a great supporter of Israel,” the minister said.

With over 34 growth stage Israeli companies and start-ups, the one-day conference allowed participants to engage, network and uncover opportunities coming out of Israel.

“Never before has there been so much excitement, enthusiasm and desire to bridge the gap between Israel and the UK and develop deeper, stronger, profitable and long-lasting relationships,” said Marc Worth and Yossi Vardi, co-chairmen of Innovate Israel.

According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, bilateral trade between the UK and Israel increased by almost 38%, from $3.7 billion in 2010 to $5.1 billion in 2011.

The UK currently stands as Israel’s fourth greatest trading partner behind the US, China and Germany. In the first third of 2012, bilateral trade between the two countries was 42% higher than for the same period in 2011.

In February 2011 the British government called to “encourage a stronger partnership between British and Israeli companies in innovation, high technology and science.” Worth and Vardi added: “This is the core of what the future partnership between the UK and Israel should be, matching the innovation and technological brilliance of Israel, the “start-up nation”, with Britain’s skill and experience in building large successful companies.”

The event allowed Israeli start-up companies – interested in joint ventures, development and access to capital – to showcase their products. Throughout the day, the event organizers scheduled one-to-one meetings between entrepreneurs and interested parties. Over 170 meetings took place with the target of nurturing cooperation, furthering collaboration and establishing bilateral ties.

The Israeli organizations had a first-hand opportunity to network with major British and European firms keen to uncover opportunities in the latest technological advancements coming out of Israel.

“The standard of Israel technology on display, the list of world class speakers and the senior UK decision makers present is unprecedented, making this Europe’s premier Israel-focused web, mobile and digital media conference,” said Noah Shani, Trade and Economics attaché at the embassy.

“Innovate Israel is not just about the Israeli sparkle. Equally important are the entrepreneurs and business leaders from the UK who are here to meet with their Israeli counterparts and engage in real dialogue with the intention of pursuing collaboration and partnership,” he added.

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