In first, New Zealand 'innovation' delegation comes to Israel.
(photo credit: RAFI)
A first-of-its-kind “innovation delegation” comprised of high-level government and business people from New Zealand arrived in Israel this week in hopes of expanding business ties.
The delegation, which includes some 54 members including the country’s chief scientist, is the first from New Zealand to visit Israel in 10 years.
The group is set to focus on areas such as communications, infrastructure, agriculture, VC funds, and technological incubators, but all-in-all sought to plug in to Israel for its reputation as the “Start-up Nation,” a technological powerhouse.
With just half the population of Israel, a strong education system and its own knack for innovation, particularly in the agricultural sector, New Zealand is hoping to get a page from Israel’s handbook on commercializing.
“We’re a solid performer in innovation – I think it’s No. 8 in per capita patents in the world – but what we’re weaker at, being a small-scale country and a little more risk averse, is taking those innovation and scaling them into global business ventures,” said Simon Moutter, managing director of the country’s largest telecom company, Spark New Zealand, and the mission’s leader.
“In New Zealand we have a lot of ideas, but have a harder time turning them into businesses,” he added.
The delegation is scheduled to meet with Israel’s first venture capital fund, visit its new cyber security-themed industrial park in Beersheba, Cyberspark, and meet with Udi Aharoni, head of the Lahav Executive Education program at Tel Aviv University.
But Richard Vesely, senior director of business and trade development for the Israel Trade Commission Australia and New Zealand, who organized the mission, thinks Israel has a lot to gain from stronger Kiwi ties as well.
“Israelis think of New Zealand as a land to go on holiday and aspire to visit, but I think it’s a great partner for Israel,” he said.
New Zealand was not the only country seeking stronger business ties with Israel this week. A 16-member delegation from India’s Nasscom arrived to scope out hi-tech connections, as well.