David Willetts leads Britain-Israel digital collaboration

By Jenni Frazer, October 27, 2011
High-tech tour: Willetts

High-tech tour: Willetts

Britain's Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, lands in Israel this weekend leading a high-level delegation of more than a dozen business leaders from the UK's digital sector.

Mr Willetts will be the British co-chair of the newly-established UK-Israel High-Tech Council, which will bring together the key figures in the industry on both sides, as well as some of the most impressive start-ups and investors.

Among those in Mr Willetts's delegation are leading venture capitalists, as well as Pearson PLC (Financial Times, Penguin Books), Telefonica O2, Stylus (trends
analysis), and Eric Van Der Kleij, chief executive of London's TechCity, the capital's growing high-tech centre, already home to 300 companies.

Mr Willetts will meet senior members of Israel's digital community to gain an insight into the country's digital economy and to identify ways in which the UK and Israel can be partners in this key area.

Speaking before the visit, the minister said: "This is a significant time for the UK-Israel high-tech relationship, and our goal will be to demonstrate to Israeli companies that Britain can help Israeli innovation go global."

The business delegation will visit the Technion in Haifa. While in Haifa, they will lead a seminar on UK high-tech, hosted by Google at its offices in the Matam industrial park.

The seminar will focus on the opportunities available to companies setting up in TechCity - the digital cluster growing up around the Olympic Park in east London. The event will also be the culmination of a "hackathon" between UK and Israeli developers, who will present their final project to the Minister.

As well as speaking at a number of events, including at the Go4Europe conference in Tel Aviv, Mr Willets will meet Minister for Trade, Industry and Labour Shalom Simhon, and Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz.

The UK delegation will also visit the Palestinian territories. In Ramallah Mr Willetts will meet young Palestinian high-tech entrepreneurs in a roundtable discussion on UK-Palestinian business links, and the success of and challenges facing Palestinian businesses in the field of information technology and the high-tech services sector.

Eurozone crisis talks disrupted plans by Chancellor George Osborne to help launch the British Embassy's new high-tech hub at Ambassador Matthew Gould's Ramat Gan home on Thursday night. At the time of going to press, Mr Osborne still hoped to go to Israel and meet Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.

Ambassador Gould said: "Britain can help Israeli innovation go global."

Last updated: 10:14am, October 27 2011