The flags of Israel and Canada.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The mayors of Canada’s two largest cities – Toronto and Montreal – headed a seven- day innovation and technology business mission in Israel this week, during which representatives of the two cities and Canadian businesses signed a series of business and cooperation agreements with their Israeli counterparts in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
The idea for the mission came from Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and Toronto Mayor John Tory, who have been cooperating on Coderre’s initiative to promote the idea of urban diplomacy. Since the beginning of the week, the 150-person delegation has visited Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba and Jerusalem.
“Urban diplomacy is about the idea of bringing large cities to the table to address the major global challenges of the day in bilateral and multilateral agreements and forums,” Coderre explained to The Jerusalem Post
in an interview.
According to Coderre, Israel was the immediate and natural first stop for the mission, which has already begun to bear fruit.
“We are very pleased, this is one of the biggest if not the biggest ever trade delegation to Israel,” Coderre said. “It was an historical moment, the two biggest cities in Canada sending the message of friendship and will to do business with our friends from Israel.”
Talking about the reasons that lead to the first-ever such mission to start in Israel, Coderre said it was because “Tel Aviv is the world capital of start-ups, because you have a tech ecosystem, because I love seeing the way that you’re investing in the Negev, and because we share the same values.”
Coderre said that the delegation signed 11 agreements overall, including with businesses in the fields of solar energy, electricity, cyber security and even fashion. “Some will be moving their headquarters to Montreal soon,” he said.
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Both mayors and their delegates had their eyes set particularly on the Israeli cyber sector. While Montreal is among the world leaders in gaming, big data and artificial intelligence technologies, Toronto is home to one of the world’s largest clusters of financial services. Both cities, each in its way, rely on the Israeli cyber front for success and innovation.
“Our opportunities to do business with Israel are many, but since we have the second-largest financial city in North America, the kind of bright ideas which have to do with the security of information and FinTech that are coming out of Israel is something that we need,” Tory said. “I’m not going to mention any particular names because that might jinx the prospects of doing business.”
Said Coderre, “Smart cities need smart protection, and in cyber security Israel is the world leader.”
Tory invited Israeli businesses to consider Canada and his city in particular as a platform for expansion and market penetration.
“Bring your business to Canada,” Tory said. “If you come and do business in Toronto, you will feel at home, but also gain a gateway not just to Canada but to all of North America.”
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