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UK-Israel tech links are ‘most exciting ever’

    Virtual reality and cyber security were on the agenda at an Israeli technology summit in London at which attendees heard how the country now sits alongside Silicon Valley at industry’s cutting edge.

    Innovate Israel 2017, at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in central London, saw 17 speakers from Israel-based companies discuss new developments in the country’s tech industry.

    Highlights included Menashe Haskin, from Edgybees, demonstrating how augmented reality software can be used with drone technology in disasters — such as those that struck Texas and Florida this summer.

    Yali Saar, the chief executive of branding agency Tailor Brands, also explained to the audience how computers could be “taught” creativity, meaning occupations that were previously thought to be “human” ones — such as graphic design — can be done by robots.

    Jon Medved, the founder and chief executive of venture capital company OurCrowd, said the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign had not impacted on Israeli tech, calling it a “non-issue”.

    He said: “Israel is a start-up nation. There is great news coming out of Israel — but some people also think the sky is falling, and they’re out to get us.

    “We’re actually in a situation now where investment in Israel has more than doubled, and next year will be even better. We’ve had delegations from China, Japan, France — and the first thing people ask is whether we talked about the boycott. No one talks about the boycott. The boycott’s a complete non-issue.

    “It’s biblical, in the sense that the world is now beating a path to Israel because they need our leadership in innovation.

    “In the way Brits are obsessed with football, Israelis are obsessed with start-ups. It’s the national sport.”

    The UK is the largest beneficiary of Israeli foreign direct investment in Europe, with more than 300 Israeli firms operating in the UK.

    The London Stock Exchange is also home to 28 Israeli firms, with a combined market cap topping £6 billion.

    Hugo Bieber, the chief executive of UK Israel Business, which held the conference, said: “After taking multiple groups of investors to Israel, UK Israel Business wants to showcase the breadth of Israeli innovation to a UK audience.

    “Now is the most exciting time in business collaboration between the two countries.

    “Our summit was a huge opportunity for UK corporates and investors to meet some of the most dynamic start-ups and scale-ups in the world. And these Israeli companies want to be here in the UK.”

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