An anti-terror search engine and smart shopping aisles were among the Israeli inventions on show at London’s third annual Mind the Tech conference.
Over 900 British and Israeli business leaders gathered in Camden House above the iconic market, just two stops on the underground from King’s Cross, London’s busiest tech hub.
The three-day conference was a partnership between the Israeli business daily Calcalist and the shared office venture LABS founded by Tel-Aviv born businessman Teddy Sagi.
The 47-year-old owner of Camden Market opened the event on Wednesday evening at a cocktail party held the night before. “For me, London was and always will be an appealing investment target, and leave or remain, I do predict a rosy future for it,” Sagi told the conference.
“I know that Israelis like to go on about the American dream. But there is also a European dream that much closer and more attainable right here, in London,” he added.
Also at the launch was ambassador Mark Regev, who expects a new record this year in bilateral trade between Israel and the UK, following a record in 2018.
“After the United States and China, Britain is the largest market for Israeli exports. More than France, more than Germany,” Regev told the launch. “That’s an economic success story.”
The Minister for Digital and Broadband said after the conference: “It is great to see the burgeoning tech links between the UK and Israel. We are two of the world’s most advanced tech economies and strengthening the ties between our start-ups will help foster even more innovation.
“This Government is committed to making the UK the best place to start and grow a digital business and our UK-Israel tech hub has already led to 175 tech partnerships in deals worth more than £85 million.”
Over recent years, Israeli entrepreneurs have seen burgeoning interest from British investors. “It took a while to get there,” said Dr Nimrod Kozlovski, conference host and senior lecturer at Tel Aviv University.
“We’ve crossed the bridge now, the chasm, where you see more UK companies having strategic partnerships with Israeli startups across retail, fashion, cyber, fin-tech,” he added.
Dr Kozlovski cited Barclays, ASOS and the Royal Bank of Scotland among the several UK companies now investing in Israel.
“Barclays is doing an incredible job not only through incubators but also scouting Israel innovations, for partnerships, having design or simulation labs in Israel,” he said.
“ASOS is doing a great job in fashion, partnering with Israeli companies on the future of fashion and retail,” he added.
Among the innovative startups showcased at the event was Cobwebs Technologies, an anti-terror search engine able to scour the web for potentially illegal or terrorist activity.
The platform can be used by government agencies, police forces and the private sector to monitor social media, the web and even websites that cannot be reached through traditional search engines, explained its founder and president Omri Timianker, who is an alumni of IDF special forces and secret services.
“The challenge that we have in Israel is very unique. The background helps, mine especially, to fill the gap between technology and operations,” he told JN after his presentation.
“Technology manufacturers usually are engineers, not field operators. I’m a field operator and understand technology and how to use it in the field,” he added.
Another startup shown at the event was Trax, an inventory management company that uses cameras to keep shelves stocked.
Founded by Israelis Dror Feldheim and Joel Bar-El, it has worked with Tesco in the past, the world’s third largest retailer, uses image-recognition software to determine the best shelf location for products.
Meanwhile augmented reality-based navigation directs customers to items on their shopping lists.”We take a brick and mortar shop and turn it into a digital platform,” Bar-El explained.
For some, the day was a chance to marvel at Israeli tech innovations like these. Ariel Nachman, who heads Simmons & Simmons’ Israeli desk, said: “One of the great things about the Israeli market is that every day there is a new company and you have to keep catching up.”
But for others it was an ideal opportunity to think about investing in some of the israeli companies on show.
Communications and investor director Eva Tarasova, from Wharton Asset Management, heard eight pitches on Thursday. “In Israel, literally everything is disruptive,” she said.
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