From left: IIA CEO Aharon Aharon, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Alliance executive vice president of Alliance Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, Alliance deputy executive vice president Gaspar Gascon Abellan and Alliance Innovation Lab Tel Aviv director Antoine Basseville.
(photo credit: NIV KANTOR)
Eager to gain early access to cutting-edge Israeli technology, French-Japanese automobile manufacturer partnership Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance launched its Tel Aviv innovation lab on Monday.
Located in Atidim Business Park, the Alliance Innovation Lab Tel Aviv was established in part-nership with the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) and, after the launch, will enable a group of 10 Israeli start-ups to carry out proof of concepts (POCs) and test their technologies with real vehicles.
The new facility will focus on developing sensors for autonomous vehicles, cybersecurity and big data. The innovation lab is the third launched by the automotive alliance to date, which sold more than 10.7 million vehicles last year, after establishing similar centers in Silicon Valley and Shanghai.
The lab will work in close cooperation with Alliance Ventures, the Alliance corporate venture capital fund that plans to invest up to $1 billion over five years in start-ups and early-stage technology companies. Alliance Ventures has already invested in Israeli venture capital fund Maniv Mobility, which specializes in Israeli automotive technology investments.
“We have many R&D centers in the world but the majority are focused on development of products,” said Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, executive vice president of Alliance engineering, at a cer-emony attended by senior automotive and hi-tech industry officials, as well as ambassadors from France, the European Union and Japan.
“There are only three R&D centers which focus on innovation of cutting-edge technology: Sili-con Valley, Shanghai and Tel Aviv... We believe that here in Israel, with a lot of strong compa-nies, start-ups and universities, we can create huge innovation.”
The innovation lab’s Atidim location will provide start-ups with access to CityZone, a 1,600 square-meter smart city experiment zone established at the business park in partnership with the Tel Aviv Municipality and Tel Aviv University. Entrepreneurs will be able to experiment with real scenarios and real data on the roads of the gated business area.
Among the start-ups initially carrying out joint prototyping projects with the Alliance will be several automotive cybersecurity companies including Argus, Enigmatos and Upstream, “Em-pathic Car” system developer Moodify and vehicle-to-vehicle communications company Auto-talks.
Alliance officials said the companies are continuously seeking to identify promising technolo-gies, with room to welcome additional start-ups into the innovation hub. The automotive part-ners are also seeking to make strategic investments in start-ups, typically injecting $10m. per deal.
“For many years, we have been hearing the pair of words: ‘smart city,’ but innovation is not only about technology – it’s also about a way of thinking,” said Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.
“Hi-tech cities are not necessarily smart, and not every technology is smart because it is new or advanced. It is the people that are smart, and we have come together today to salute our col-laboration with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.”
Supported by the IIA’s Technological Innovation Labs program, participating start-ups are eligi-ble to receive conditional grants up to NIS 850,000 ($237,000) or 85% of their research and de-velopment expenditure.
“I believe that this center can serve as a role model for the future innovation labs that we will have in Israel,” said IIA CEO Aharon Aharon.