The local hi-tech community is set to showcase its best wares this week as the much anticipated Telecom Israel event takes shape with record international attendances expected at the industry's premier exhibition this year.
"The international exhibition will present the abilities and achievements of the Israeli communications and hi-tech industries and showcase the country as a world power in technology," said Communications Minister Ariel Attias. "The event will give exposure to new developments in technology coming out of Israel and create opportunities for joint projects for local companies with foreign government groups and companies."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Eli Yishai and Communications Minister Attias officially opened the biennial event Sunday night and some 150 exhibitors will take to the Tel Aviv Trade Fairs and Convention Center Monday for the three-day tech festival.
The Communications Ministry said some 2,000 overseas visitors had arrived in the country for the event including delegations with ministers, government representatives and business delegations from over 40 different countries. The last Telecom Israel event attracted delegations from 20 countries.
Among those who made the trip this year were communications ministers from Australia, Vietnam, Estonia, Cambodia, Romania, Nigeria, and the deputy Prime Minister of Slovakia. High level delegations from as far as Albania, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Sweden and Uganda also will participate in the exhibition's activities.
Renowned for its flashy futuristic production, with each company trying to outdo the next with its next big, coolest gadget, 150 companies will present at this year's event in addition to approximately 50 Israeli start-up companies that will feature in the main exhibition. A prize of $10,000 will be awarded to the outstanding start-up by Chief Scientist Eli Ofer and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Eli Yishai on Wednesday.
The exhibition comes against the backdrop of a successful year so far for the local industry.
Yehiel Asia, director-general of the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, one of the organizers of Telecom Israel, reported that in the first half of the year 72 new start-up companies were established in Israel, bringing the total number to 2,686. Telecommunication hi-tech companies, he added, raised some $469 million in 2005, making up for 35% of the total capital raised by Israeli companies. Sixty-three start-ups were purchased for approximately $2.75 billion in that year, he noted.
With networking and dealmaking the name of the game at such events world wide, all eyes will be on Tel Aviv over the next few days to see if Telecom 2006 can capitalize on the interest foreign players already have exhibited in the event.