Geeks Pile Into Tel Aviv as Tech Conference Season Begins

300-person Chinese delegation, complete with vice-premier and ministers, due to attend Israel Innovation Conference next week.

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It’s high-tech conference time in Israel. Hundreds of foreign guests, including investors, senior industry figures and official delegations are in Tel Aviv, or will be shortly, for an array of events.

The peak of the season begins next Tuesday when the Mixiii innovation conference opens in Tel Aviv. This year the it comprises two events -- one dedicated to high-tech and the other to the biotechnology, which is expected to boost attendance. Attendees include a 300-strong delegation from China that is headed by a vice premier and includes the Chinese ministers of science, education and health and a Chinese vice foreign minister, as well as an entire delegation from Zhejiang province, underscoring China’s growing interest in Israeli innovation.

The worldwide interest in Israeli high-tech is due in part to the high profile that the industry here has enjoyed on a global scale recently, in part due to transactions such as the sale of the Waze traffic navigation app to Google for close to a billion dollars and other Israeli high-tech companies that have been scooped up by foreign firms.

“This is a great time in the technology world, and Israel has a backlog of companies to invest in, so we are attracting executives from around the world who want to join in the celebration,” said Yoav Chelouche, joint chairman of the conference and of its sponsoring organization, the Israel Advanced Technology Industries Association.

Other countries that will be represented include the United States, Germany, Italy, India, Turkey and South Korea. About 100 people will be attending from India, including some 60 government officials. The Indian pavilion will be the largest at the conference, which is being held at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.

Other events that kicked off the season include the Tel Aviv University Innovation Day and The Age of Context: Israel’s First Wearable Tech Conference, both of which were held earlier this week. Next Monday the Sami Shamoon College of Engineering is holding Cyber Night 325, dedicated to network security. Applications will be the focus of a series of conferences early next month, headlined by the Israel Mobile Summit in Rishon Letzion as part of Israel Mobile Week on the 10th and Mobile Monday Tel Aviv on the 9th, which will close with the first-ever DroidCon event dedicated to the subject of androids in Israel, on June 10 and 11.

The high-tech conference season is making it hard to find a hotel room in Tel Aviv. Hotels are virtually full for the month of May.

Sharon Alon, who is responsible for Fattal Hotel’s properties in Tel Aviv, said that this week and next all of his hotels in the area are fully booked.

“If in Eilat they say August is the peak season, then in Tel Aviv it’s May,” said Nahum Kara, deputy CEO for marketing at the Isrotel chain. “This week and next occupancy rates in the Tel Aviv area will be much higher than usual. All of our hotels are 100% full.”

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