European innovation community extends operations to Israel
The newly-inaugurated Tel Aviv hub - located at the city's Azrieli Sarona Tower - is the EIT's second facility outside the continent, following the launch of a similar hub in the Silicon Valley.
By EYTAN HALON
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) extended its pan-European innovation network to Israel on Monday, inaugurating a new hub in central Tel Aviv at a ceremony attended by Israeli and European business leaders.Established by the European Union in 2008, Budapest-headquartered EIT's 50 innovation hubs and 1,500 partners across Europe aim to boost innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe by supporting collaboration between business, education and research groups.The Tel Aviv hub - located at the city's Azrieli Sarona Tower - is the EIT's second facility outside the continent, following the launch of a similar hub in the Silicon Valley."The relationship between the European Union and Israel is a very close relationship based on history, values and common ways of looking at the future," said EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret."Europe and Israel are close because of trade, but this relationship goes well beyond trade. It touches issues of security, environment, innovation, education and many others. This is why we are here today. The hub that we are opening tonight is about our cooperation in areas of research and innovation."The EIT hub will serve as a bridge between European and Israeli innovators, and represent a landing pad for EIT partners from a variety of sectors in Israel. The facility will also offer start-up development training and foster connections between disruptive start-ups from Israel and its European neighbors.The hub will also complement existing EIT activities in Israel already in operation prior to the launch of the hub by a series of innovation "communities," including by EIT Health, EIT Climate-KIC, EIT Food and EIT Urban Mobility.EIT also aims to advance objectives set out by Horizon 2020, a research and innovation program established by the European Research Council to enhance the continent's global competitiveness. The Horizon 2020 program, of which Israel is a member state, has offered nearly $80 billion of funding for innovative research projects since it commenced operations in 2014.
To date, EIT's operations have powered over 2,000 start-ups and scale-ups across Europe, creating more than 6,100 jobs and in excess of 900 new products and services. Supported ventures, EIT says, have raised more than $1.65 billion in external capital."This is about solving the big challenges that Europe and the world faces today," said EIT Director Martin Kern, citing pressing issues including climate change, digital transformation, food innovation and sustainability."These are challenges that you can identify with Israel, and that's why we believe cooperation between the large ecosystem in Europe and the one here in Israel is a perfect match. A match that will yield a lot of innovation activities," Kern said."There is no shortage of ideas, which is one of the ingredients for innovation. The other ingredient is a structured ecosystem to turn creativity into concrete solutions."