solar panels 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
While political relations between Israel and European countries may be strained,
when it comes to business, relationships are warming. Italy in particular is
hungry for Israeli investments and business cooperation.
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On Thursday, the
Milan Chamber of Commerce and Bank Hapoalim held a conference on investment
opportunities in the dynamic Italian solar energy sector, and only a week ago a
group of businesspeople from the Piedmont region were in Tel Aviv to meet local
hi-tech leaders for joint research and development projects.
Roni Benatoff, chairman of the Italy-Israel Chamber of Commerce, in 2010 Italy
overtook Germany and became Israel’s second largest trade partner in the fields
of science and technology, after the United States.
“This didn’t happen
by accident. The growth in bilateral cooperation is the result of efforts
by the government, both on the national level and the regional level,” said
“The Italians have realized that their local industries have,
to a certain degree, been left behind and lack sufficient innovation. Much of
their industry is family based micro-industries who don’t have the resources
necessary for investment in such development. The Italian government sees
Israel as an important source for innovation. Cooperation between companies in
both countries has the potential to link the innovative strengths that Israel
has to offer with the design and marketing strengths that Italians
“Italy can also offer Israelis a bridge to boost participation in
European markets as well as access to markets traditionally closed to Israelis,
like North Africa and the Persian Gulf,” said Benatoff.
explained that the role of the governments was to be facilitators and aid in
creating the connections, but that after the first ties were made, both sides
backed off. “Italy, like Israel has a free market system and while they want to
support their business community, they don’t want unnecessary interference. The
developers know how to do things more efficiently than the government
Whereas last week’s meeting dealt with all sorts of hi tech
business connections, Thursday’s conference focused solely on investment
opportunities in the Lombardy region’s renewable energy sector.
and Lombardy boast a developed market, companies with advanced technology as
well as a business oriented environment, a favorable destination for Israel
investments,” said Pier Andrea Chevallard, secretary-general of the Milan
Chamber of Commerce.
“Since Israel is becoming a target market for us, we
are willing to offer Israeli investors free services and assistance to ease the
whole procedure of establishment of a new project like identifying the most
appropriate counterparts, assisting in research of employees, research of
regional, national and European funds for the development of a project, and
other tailor-made services based on specific requirement of the Israeli
According to Ariel Nachman, an Israeli lawyer who works for
the Simmons & Simmons law firm based in Milan, in the past two or three
years there has been a continuous “pilgrimage” of Israeli investors to
“Several years ago the Italian government began a process that
would see 20 percent of its energy for electricity come from renewable resources
and as a result the different regions set up aggressive incentives for the
production of photovoltaic electricity plants,” said Nachman.
people, when they think of solar power, they think about the southern part of
Italy, but Lombardy, which is in the north, has 20% of the projects. We’re here
to provide information for potential investors on the best ways to enter the
local market and how to differentiate between real opportunities and
Nachman divided the Israeli investors into three main groups:
private entrepreneurs, investment companies and real-estate companies who are
looking to invest in projects where they can also contribute their own
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