After Davos, Foreign Tech Firms Head to Israel

Netanyahu says Google, Yahoo and others were mainly interested in local cybersecurity.

Back from the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the cabinet yesterday that his campaign to promote the country’s innovative capabilities had aroused interest on the part of high-tech multinationals to set up shop in Israel, particularly in cyber security.

Netanyahu’s cabinet remarks came amid a flurry of news of planned multinational research and development centers in Israel by the U.S. companies Lockheed, EMC as well as China’s Haier and France’s Technicolor.

Netanyahu used the Davos conference — an annual gathering of the world’s corporate and political leaders — to highlight Israel’s high-tech prowess, devoting the first half of an address on the subject before turning to the Palestinian and Iranian issues. With the government investing heavily in the area, Israel intended to become one of the top three countries for cyber-security, he told his audience at the World Economic Forum.

“We met [in Davos] with the largest firms — Google, Yahoo, Cisco, Microsoft and with various cyber-security companies in group and individual meetings,” Netanyahu told the cabinet. “The expectation is that due to our special circumstances, Israel can provide a wide range of solutions in this field.”

On Sunday, the American aerospace, defense and technology company Lockheed Martin, along with EMC, a U.S. storage technology firm, announced plans for a joint R&D project to be located at the advanced technology science park in Be’er Sheva. Via partnerships with Israeli industry, government and academic institutions including Ben-Gurion University, the venture will focus on cloud computing, big data and cyber-security communications technology. The initial investment in the venture is to be $1 million, the two companies said.

“We expect this collaboration with Lockheed Martin will help EMC continue to rapidly accelerate our important research and development,” said Orna Berry, general manager of EMC’s Israel center.

EMC, which already has sales and R&D operations in Israel, employs more than 1,000 people in Israel and has invested hundreds of millions of dollars acquiring nine Israeli startups. Up to now, Lockheed’s presence in Israel was primarily focused on aerospace and defense endeavors, but the company recently established a new Israeli business unit.

Chinese giant to set up innovation center here

Meanwhile, Haier, the major Chinese manufacturer of home electronics and appliances, plans to set up an innovation center in Israel as part of a strategy of opening facilities in countries with advanced technology. The company is looking for technology that can be integrated into its products. Haier will be teaming up with an Israeli firm, Asia Business Gateway, a company that acts as an intermediary between Asian companies and Israeli startups, to coordinate its innovation operations here.

In addition, a group of executives from Technicolor, the Paris-based French-American media and entertainment technology firm, is visiting Israel this week with an eye to investing in Israeli technology firms. The group, which includes CEO Frederic Rose and four other top managers, is meeting with startups developing technology for the media and entertainment market. The group will also meet with venture capital funds, Economy Ministry Chief Scientist Avi Hasson and President Shimon Peres, who headed the Israeli delegation to Davos along with Netanyahu.

Technicolor, formerly known as Thomson and Thomson Media, is believed to be weighing opening a development center in Israel to complement the four it now has around the world.

Technicolor, which is traded on the Paris Stock Exchange, has a worldwide workforce of 14,000 and in 2012 had revenues of 3.5 billion euros.

With reporting by Reuters.

Reuters