Israel sets up first hi-tech accelerator program in China

The program will help Israeli hi-tech companies succeed in the huge Chinese market.

A general view shows Beijing's skyline on a sunny day (photo credit: JASON LEE / REUTERS)
A general view shows Beijing's skyline on a sunny day
(photo credit: JASON LEE / REUTERS)
Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry announced on Sunday the launch of accelerator program in Beijing, designed to help Israeli hi-tech firms expand in the gigantic Chinese market.
The Israeli companies will get all-included professional support from the ShengJing Group — one of China’s largest management consulting and private equity firms — ShengJing senior partner Sherrie Wang told The Jerusalem Post, while the Israeli firms are picking up the tab for personal expenses and the Israeli government is paying for office space.
“The next step for us to further engage with the Israeli ecosystem is naturally the opening of the Israel-China Accelerator Program. We are proud to partner with the Israel Ministry of Economy and Industry in this initiative,” Wang said.
Any Israeli hi-tech company can apply — with a deadline by the end of October — and five firms will be selected for the inaugural program, Wang said, which is expected to start in December. 15-20 Israeli employees will then spend half-a-year based in the Chinese capital.
Both the Ministry of Economy and ShengJing will not necessarily select companies that offer the most innovative and exciting technology, but rather firms that are most likely to succeed and expand in China with a business plan.
“The Chinese market is a huge potential market for Israeli start-ups, but it is one of the more complex markets in which to operate. Cultural barriers, language barriers, different business practices, a different set of rules are just some of the obstacles facing an Israeli company, especially a technology company that is trying to succeed in China,” said Ofir Gur, the Israeli embassy’s commercial attaché in China.
Around 50 Israeli firms are expected to apply for the program, ranging in fields from software to medical devices and TMT (technology, media & telecommunications).
The selected companies will each receive a specialized mentor, and the Israeli employees will spend the first three months learning about Chinese business culture and regulatory concerns. For the last and more immersive three months, the Israelis will devise business development and marketing plans, along with meeting with potential customers and investors as they tour innovation hubs on road-show based trips, such as Shanghai and Guangzhou.
“ShengJing's cross-domain network of industry experts and leading CEOs, combined with the investment ecosystem of Peakview Capital, positions the new accelerator program as a unique opportunity for Israeli high-tech companies aiming to enter the Chinese market with success,” said Wang, adding that the program’s Rolodex of Chinese entrepreneurs and senior management teams would prove invaluable to an Israeli start-up.
ShengJing, via its Peakview investment arm, has already invested nearly $100 million in Israeli start-ups in the past few years, along with providing funding for Israeli venture capital and private equity firms like Jerusalem Venture Partners, Vintage Investment Partners, Viola Group and Canaan Partners.
The Chinese equity firm has also hosted the Global Innovation Awards Competition, which Israeli start-ups won in 2015 and 2016. Some 180 Israeli start-ups previously entered the local stage of the GIA competition in order to win awards worth $1.5 million and gain exposure to leading Chinese investors.
ShengJing has invested a total of RMB 20 billion ($3 billion) in major Chinese tech companies such as Alibaba — which is the Chinese version of Amazon — and Baidu, the dominant local search engine. The firm has also trained some 30,000 Chinese entrepreneurs.