It's a new era for British Israeli business
Shipping tycoon Sammy Ofer KBE
The great and the good were out in force this week for the inaugural British Israeli Business awards dinner, organised by the British-Israel Chamber of Commerce.
More than 300 senior business figures attended Tuesday's event at London's Millennium Mayfair hotel. Among them were Sir Victor Blank, property entrepreneur Vincent Tchenguiz and Sir Trevor Chinn.
The evening marked a new era for the Chamber, which will be merging with the Israel Britain Business Council at the end of the month to form UK Israel Business - when internet entrepreneur Marc Worth will be taking over from Michael Ziff as chairman. During the evening, shipping tycoon Sammy Ofer KBE was presented with the Israel Sieff liftetime achievement award in recognition of his business and philanthropic activities in both the UK and Israel. Bunzl plc and Arad Water Technology were named British and Israeli company of the year, respectively.
There were motivating speeches from Shai Agassi, the founder of Better Place, who spoke about his company's ambitions to revolutionise the electric car industry and universities miinister David Willetts, who had stepped in to replace the scheduled speaker Stephen Green, the former chairman of HSBC - he had duties in the Lords. Mr Willetts said the UK has much to learn from Israel's creativity and innovation. "We need to explore how Britain can benefit most from Israel's high-tech economy. There ought to be enormous potential for us to use Israel's innovation to propel UK economic growth."
B-ICC chief executive Danny Seal said: "The dinner demonstrated how far we came as an organisation over the course of 2010.
"It is our vision to turn UK Israel Business into the first port of call of bilateral business activities."