In October 2011, British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould officially launched the UK Israel Tech Hub at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv.
The UK Israel Tech Hub was established in order to promote partnerships in technology and innovation between Israel and the UK, and is the first initiative of its kind for the British Government and for an embassy in Israel. The Hub's creation followed an agreement between Prime Ministers David Cameron and Benjamin Netanyahu to build a UK-Israel partnership in technology. The Hub is a pilot programme for UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office aimed at developing new methods and metrics of commercial diplomacy. It is supported by both public and private funding, and works in collaboration with UKTI in Israel and with a wide range of partner organisations.
The initiative has received tremendous support since its establishment in October 2011, not least with the appointment of Haim Shani, former director general of the Israeli Ministry of Finance and CEO of NICE Systems Ltd, as non-executive Chairman of the Hub in February 2012. Shani also sits on the newly established UK Israel Tech Council, chaired by UK Minister for Universities and Sciences David Willetts and Israel’s Chief Scientist Avi Hasson.
The establishment of the UK Israel Tech Council is yet another initiative in support of UK-Israel trade and technology relations. At the first council meeting in March 2012 held at the historic Lancaster House in London, the Council brought together top business leaders and officials to discuss an ambitious strategy for creating the UK-Israel tech partnership. The meeting lead to understanding between UK and Israel on a plan to strengthen cooperation in numerous tech sectors, including digital, water tech, life sciences, creative industries and financial services.
In December 2012, PM Cameron appointed venture capitalist Saul Klein as the UK Tech Envoy to Israel, the first envoy of its kind (Downing 10 site). Mr. Klein has been charged with promoting the tech partnership between the two countries, working with the UK Israel Tech Hub and UK Israel Tech Council, leading UK tech missions to Israel, bringing Israeli start-ups to Britain, and hosting tech events in both countries.
The Hub is a team of 7 specialists based at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, and soon with a permanent presence in London as well. Hub Director Naomi Krieger Carmy says: "There are incredible partnership opportunities for companies on both sides. Israeli innovation can ‘go global’ via Europe’s business capital, and British companies can gain a global advantage by tapping into Israel’s tech ecosystem. Our role is to highlight opportunities that the market may have missed and to provide the platforms that will enable new partnerships and business links".
The Hub focuses its activities in sectors where the UK and Israel have complementary strengths, including digital, biomed, cleantech, Arabic internet, government IT and finance. To date, these activities have included sector-specific business delegations between the UK and Israel; conferences, workshops and partnering events; bespoke programs for leading companies and raising awareness of business opportunities. On many of these projects the Hub works in collaboration with partners such as the Israeli Embassy London and the Israel Export Institute.
A recent example of a successful UK Israel tech collaboration is Britain's National Health Service (NHS), through the National Institute for Health Research, who has now formed strong collaborations with Israeli life sciences companies conducting clinical trials in the UK. The cooperation was made as part of the burgeoning partnership between Israel and Britain's life sciences industries initiated by the UK-Israel Tech Hub.
"At the last Israel Biomed Conference, we hosted a range of British start-ups which were seeking opportunities with their Israeli counterparts. We're at the start of relations with great potential. We're supported by both governments," said UK Israel Tech Hub biomed sector director Dr. Iris Geffen Gloor (Globes).