Held at the Peres Center in the ancient port of Jaffa, and with the turquoise Mediterranean Sea as a backdrop, the Asian guests said there were huge opportunities in their countries. India, alone, has more than one billion people.
“India faces a lot of 'bottom of the pyramid' issues with a majority of the population living on less than two dollars a day,” Dr. Arvind Gupta, the national technology head of the opposition BJP party told The Media Line. “These people are ready to consume innovation fast and they will take solutions from Israel or anyplace else in the world.”
Israel offers some unique opportunities for “co-creation” with Indian entrepreneurs, he says.
“There is a lot of fresh thinking in Israel,” he said. “This is as good a place to do business as any place in the world.”
Israel and India already have close diplomatic and military ties. India is the largest customer of Israeli military equipment, buying some $9 billion in Israeli equipment. The two countries also do join military training and share space technology. In 2010, bilateral trade excluding military sales stood at $4.7 billion.
The dozens of members of the visiting delegations visited several Israeli startups including Insightec, a company that can conduct scans and some operations using ultra-sound.
“It is a great technology that can be employed using internet over cell phones,” he said. “The question is can it be used over low-end phones that are not connected to the Internet and how would that work?”
But some of the visitors warned that Israelis and Indians can have different ways of doing business.
“The typical Indian corporate buyer is reasonably risk averse and they take normally a longer time to decide on something,” Rajiv Prakash, the founder of NEXT-in Partners told The Media Line.
“When they say yes, it means maybe or no. India is a context based country while the West is light on context so when you buy or sell in India you have to have the relationship and manage the network of relationships and family. In the US what would take three or four months could be a three or four year sale in India.”
'Spirit of true innovation'Prakash also said that Israelis often see Asia as a huge market, rather than a place to look for partners. He said the more Israelis and Asians work together, the more successful both will be.
Some of the Israeli guests said that Israel’s technology sector offers some unique features.
“We are 'duct-tape developers,' Dr. Aliza Inbal, director of the Innovation and International Development Program at Tel Aviv University, told The Media Line. “We look at bad or scarce conditions and say how do we maximize technology to achieve our goals?”
She echoed Prakash’s comments on the need for Israeli and Asian entrepreneurs to partner, and said that Israel can make an important contribution in developing technology solutions for off-grid water or lighting.
“One-third of the world is still not connected to electricity or clean water,” she said. “They need solar power solutions that enable you to power your hut or purify your water using Israeli technology and it also has to be cheap.”
Some of the presenters came with much bigger ideas, like Jerry Sanders, the CEO of Sky-Tran, a high speed, elevated, personal rapid transportation system.
“It’s just like the Jetsons,” the San-Francisco-based Sanders told The Media Line. “You will be able to leave your home or office, step into a vehicle and it takes off like a rocket, over the stop signs, over the traffic, over the accidents, and takes you directly to your destination.”
Sanders said that the recently completed Jerusalem light rail system cost $160 million per half-mile, while Sky Tran costs just $9 million for the same distance. It uses very little power, as there is no friction. He said the first five-mile loop from Tel Aviv’s Atidim Technology Park, to Tel Aviv University and the upscale Tel Aviv port, could be completed within two years.
“Chinese start-ups are market-driven while here in Israel they are problem-driven,” he told The Media Line. “This is something we can learn from Israel – the spirit of true innovation.”
Article written by Linda Gradstein
Reprinted with permission from The Media Line