The biggest success in bilateral trade between Britain and Israel in the last decade has undoubtedly been the rise of hi-tech, described in the policy conference’s first session as “the new engine” of UK Israel relations.
In a panel session chaired by the City Editor of the Daily Mail, Alex Brummer, who is also non-executive chairman of the Jewish News, business leaders came together to discuss the feel-good story of British-Israel commerce, which has led to an upsurge of £5 billion in trade between the two countries.
On hand to dissect the best of the hi-tech ventures were Mike Hodgson, head of Innovative Engagement at BT; Wendy Tan White, MBE, one of the hottest UK technology entrepreneurs, who is General Partner at Entrepreneur First, and and “angel investor”. in tech start-ups; Head of Investments at the equity crowdfunding platform Our Crowd, Elan Zivotofsky; and Professor Eugene Kandel, economics professor at the Hebrew University and chief executive of Start Up Nation Central.
Professor Kandel said one of the contributing factors to the relationship between Britain and Israel in hi-tech had been the establishment of the UK-Israel Technology Hub, first proposed by former UK ambassador Matthew Gould and now in its fifth year. It had been “so successful that a number of other countries have coped the model elsewhere”, he said.
Israel, said Professor Kandel, was at the forefront of three specific technologies: “smart driving, digital health (the convergence of digital and genomic technologies to enhance the efficiency of healthcare and make medicine more personalised and precise) and agritech.” All these technologies were in demand in the UK.
When the panel was asked about the effect of Brexit on the bilateral trade, Wendy Tan White said she felt it was “an opportunity to refresh the conversation” between the two countries, and looked forward to more joint ventures.