The inaugural meeting of the UK Israel Tech Council was held in London last week.

The Council is comprised of 35 high-ranking business leaders and senior officials, including British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould and non-executive chairman of the UK-Israel Technologies Hub Haim Shani (a former director general of the Israeli Finance Minister [sic.] and former CEO of NICE Systems), Israel’s leading entrepreneur Yossi Vardi, Chairman of Given Imaging and Netafim Ltd, Israel Makov, Editor of Wired magazine David Rowan as well as senior executives from Virgin Media, Google, Alcatel Lucent, Amadeus Capital, NICE Systems, Pitango Venture Capital and other leading corporations and investment funds. [source: UK in Israel]

Yossi Vardi, leading Israeli entrepreneur.

Yossi Vardi, former Director General of the De...

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The meeting was co-chaired by David Willetts MP (Minister of State for Universities and Science) who commented that:

Israel has an impressive record of research and development and this should in turn be an important driver of UK economic growth. Today’s launch of the UK-Israel Tech Council was another key step in forging our partnership and bringing together our leading companies. Our ambition is to encourage Israeli entrepreneurs to go beyond the default option of partnering with the United States and also persuade British businesses to look seriously at what Israel has to offer.

This is a welcome investment and innovation strategy focusing on digital, water tech, life sciences, creative industries and financial services.

Avi Hasson (Israel’s Chief Scientist) said:

“Research has shown that international cooperation in technology and innovation is an effective way of reaching economic growth and promoting job creation for both countries involved. I believe that the Israeli and British technological and scientific ecosystems are complementary… I hope that the first meeting of the council is just a first step on the way to a successful and long lasting platform for tech cooperation between our countries.”

As a researcher in Open Innovation and innovation clusters I have followed the developments of the UK-Israel Technologies Hub with interest. Launched in October 2011, the Hub focuses on development of strategic partnerships between UK and Israeli businesses. Shared access to research and development, routes to market, joint ventures, co-creation and crowd sourcing are key opportunities. Critical success factors for innovation clusters include:

  • The ability to create sustainable strategic partnerships
  • The establishment of trust within the ecosystem
  • Creation of strong connections between individuals and companies through online and offline networks

The UK Israel Tech Council and the UK Israel Technologies Hub are already delivering results. In early March, Ed Vaisey MP (UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries) led a delegation to Israel, meeting with Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon and Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat. The Ministers agreed to increased cooperation and the establishment of a joint panel on challenges in telecoms.

The UK Israel Tech Council meeting ‘coincided’ with release of bilateral trade figures, showing 34% in-year growth and a headline figure of £3.75bn (bilateral). This divides into £1.57bn UK exports and £2.18bn Israeli exports. The trade figures are incredibly encouraging, and these new initiatives will contribute to increased growth throughout 2012/13 as their functions ‘mature’ and relationships flourish between new and established UK and Israeli participants.