London skyline 370.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
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
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
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
“There is a natural bond between the two countries and the
British government is a great supporter of Israel,” the minister
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.
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
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
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.
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