Auto giants make pilgrimage to Israel

Riley Riley

It’s got a population smaller than London yet Israel is rated as the second most innovative country in the world behind Switzerland.

It currently has more than 7000 emerging businesses, half of them committed to areas such as IT or internet software.

These facts have not gone unnoticed by the major tech and auto giants.

Earlier this year the computer chip maker Intel caused waves when it bought Mobileye for $15 billion dollars making it the biggest ever acquisition of an Israeli tech company.

Mobileye is a supplier of systems used in automotive collision detection systems.

The deal is seen as central to Intel’s plans to expand into the fast growing autonomous vehicle systems, data and services sector which it believes will be worth $70 billion by 2030.

As expected, the auto giants are also getting in on the act, with a view to taping into the local expertise.

Spain’s SEAT has just announced XPLORA, an initiative based in Tel Aviv that is designed to identify innovative projects that could lead to future solutions and business models for the brand.

President, Luca de Meo described Israel is a benchmark country in innovation.

“It is considered the ‘nation of startups’ so there is no better place to launch an initiative of this kind,” he said.

Two other car manufacturers have also recently announced their plans to invest in specialist hubs in Israel.

Volkswagen and Hyundai are to open research and development centres.

They unveiled their plans at The Fuel Choices and Smart Mobility conference in Tel Aviv.

The number of startups targeting the automotive sector and smart mobility in Israel has witnessed a dramatic increase over the last few years.

In 2013, the country had 87 companies – today there is a total of 520 new businesses in this sector.

They’re impressive figures for a country that does not have its own car manufacturing industry.

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