Hundreds of young Israeli and British businessmen and women took part in an intensive three-day London conference last week staged by Calcalist, the Israeli business newspaper and website.
The Next Game Changers was Calcalist’s second London conference, but the first to be held in the UK since Britain voted to leave the European Union. But businessman Teddy Sagi, in whose Camden Town headquarters much of the conference was held, told delegates: “I am a great believer in London and the British economy.
“Indeed, Brexit generated confusion and uncertainty among investors around the world, but business here did not stop for a minute.
“Therefore, I suggest that everyone be active and quick, especially at this time. Today, more than ever, London offers excellent business opportunities.”
Sagi was echoed by Xavier Rolet, chief executive of the London Stock Exchange Group.
Noting that there were currently 28 Israeli companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, Rolet told the Israeli participants: “There are good people here with whom to do business, investment and tech development. You have friends in the City of London.”
In a day during which the Game Changers were offered tips on “how to build a $4billion company” and learned “how technology and data will change the future of sport”, the keynote address came from the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat.
In his ninth year as mayor, Barkat, himself a former technology entrepreneur, has unveiled an ambitious plan called the “Jerusalem Gateway”, a new business district that he hopes will transform the face of the capital.
“We have identified the core competitive advantages of the city of Jerusalem,” Barkat said. “The first thing is to note the brand – 3,000 years of investment”.
Because so many people around the world want to visit the city, the mayor’s first goal was to raise the number of hotel rooms available – and it is planned to have at least 2,000 new rooms in the Gateway district alone.
To increase the number of tourists from two million a year to a projected 10 million, Barkat’s team “started marketing our sites where kings and prophets walked”. His plan envisages connecting Jerusalem’s past with its future, he said, “and we want to cluster culture and tourism together”.
Jerusalem, said the mayor, “is one of the top five emerging technology hubs in the world”, and he said he wants the Gateway to be a place to help young entrepreneurs and start-ups work
in the city.
Transportation plays a big part in the scheme. “We are sitting on a transport hub which is the biggest of its kind,” he expained. “Two light rail lines and a new bus station make that hub the most accessible place in the country today,” adding that with government investment, Jerusalem was working on “a network of cable cars connecting ancient
Jerusalem with the light rail lines”.
The Jerusalem Gateway, he promised, “will change the way people view the city – and the finished product would be “bigger than Canary Wharf”.
After a welcome by Calcalist’s founder and publisher Yoel Esteron, the conference continued with a number of specialist workshops for established as well as start-up businesses.