Looking to strengthen economic ties between Tel Aviv and London, London Mayor Boris Johnson on Monday embarked on a tour of the city’s hi-tech highlights, with particular focus on education technology.
“London is the natural tech partner for Israeli firms looking to expand,” he said. “With access to a world class talent pool and a booming digital economy, it is no surprise that Israeli tech companies are making London their home and choosing the London Stock Exchange as their international market for expansion.”
The mayor kicked off the day with a visit to the Tel Aviv Stock exchange, though he is competing with it to attract Israeli companies. Some 16 Israeli tech firms worth a combined market value of £3.7 billion (NIS 21.9b) are listed on the London Stock Exchange, and Johnson was not shy about wanting to attract more, especially for companies looking to expand to European markets.
In 2014, he noted, more Israeli companies listed on the LSE’s markets than any country other than England. Israel’s innovation, he ventured, sprang forth from being a democratic society, a rarity in the Middle East.
“Can you have innovation without democracy? I don’t think so,” he said.
In a meeting at Google Campus in Tel Aviv, British companies on the delegation mingled with Israeli start-ups.
James Layfield, who runs a shared workspace called Central Working, said he is seeking to expand to Tel Aviv. He also announced plans to bring 20 Israeli start-ups to London to work with the company, which bases its revenue on facilitating business connections.
Neil Small, the director of virtual reality architecture start-up Lucid, said he hopes to learn the Israeli market and explore local technology.
Tel Aviv Global, a mayoral initiative to raise the city’s international stature that has signed cooperation agreements with Berlin and Paris, is looking to create a similar arrangement with London.
Many of the companies have a particular focus on education. Codemonkey, an Israeli educational start-up that teaches kids computer programming through games, said it is hoping to expand to school systems in places like London. MindCETx, a project of Israeli ed-tech center MindCet focusing on teaching empathy through virtual reality and other emerging technologies, said technological ties between the two cities are helpful to developing their product.
“The UK is home to some of the world’s leading schools, colleges, universities and education businesses. The companies accompanying the Mayor on this trip are proof of the UK and London’s strength in this fast growing sector,” said Ian Fordham, CEO of Edtech UK, the strategic body leading the sector in there.
Education technology accounts for just a few percentage points of the global tech market, but is projected to reach £129b (NIS 764.6b) by 2025, according to a recent report by London & Partners and Edtech UK.