By Ross Douglas, Founder and CEO, Autonomy.
I was invited to moderate a panel during this year’s editon of EcoMotion in Tel Aviv called MaaS – Cracking the Triangle – Municipality – Industry – Startup. It featured YJ Fischer, VP for Government Partnerships at Bird, Thomas Curran, Co-founder of SkyTran, Miska Hakala, Director of Helsinki Business Hub and Alexander Viros, CEO of E-voyageurs SNCF. The main conclusion of the panel is that private operators like Bird, public transport operators like SNCF with their +12M users and cities like Helsinki are prepared to work together to provide alternatives to single-car ownership and driving.
EcoMotion, now in its 7th year and is sponsored by Israeli Ministry of Transport. It chose 110 startups of which 103 were from Israel and the rest from Europe to pitch their products and services to an international audience. It was a very impressive event and to give you a better idea of the size, here are a few key stats:
3 800 Attendees, 1 375 Companies, 1 100 Liters of Beer, 900 International Guests from 44 Countries, 620 Pre- Scheduled Meetings, 341 Startups Attending, 160 Workshops Speakers , 153 Exhibitors, 77 Main Stage Speakers, 75 Partners, 71 Pitches on Startup Stage, and 22 Demos all in ONE community.
While at EcoMotion, in addition to the interesting conclusions I took away from my panel, I noticed the emergence of a few important trends. Here are my 5 Key take-aways:
- Israel is positioning itself as the mobility tech startup of the world:
- The massive $15B acquisition of Mobilieye by Intel in 2017 has helped to build the strong ecosystem of startups, VCs and Corporate Ventures in Israel
- The Tel Aviv startup system is mature with sufficient startups, capital and buyers based in a city of about 500 000
- Israel has 1 startup for every 1400 people, France has .112, Germany .056 and the UK .21
- OEMS view Israel as the source of new mobility tech
- During the event, Ford’s chairman, Bill Ford announced the opening of a Ford innovation hub in Tel Aviv.
- This was followed by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance announcing the opening of their Innovation Lab
- I believe that most OEMs will have a presence in Tel Aviv to access talent
- Much of this innovation is coming out of the military:
- Israel Defense Force veterans are putting defense system insights into products and solutions for advanced driver assistance systems, cyber security, connectivity, electrification, and autonomous vehicles.
- The Book Startup Nation: The Story of Israel’s economic miracle state that the biggest two factors for Israel’s economic success are mandatory military service and immigration
- As we move to AVs this technology will become increasingly valuable
- Exit or Export:
- The local market for Israeli startups is tiny as the population of the country is only 8 million
- Startups are actively looking to be acquired by multinationals or collaborate on exporting to major markets
- Israeli startups have excellent deal-making skills as they need to collaborate to access foreign markets
- Government support pays dividends:
- In the 5 years of being in the mobility space, I have never attended an event that had such a high level of government support.
- The Israeli government uses EcoMotion to bring deals to Israel and it works
- EcoMotion is a great event to attend: organised and friendly team, smart startups, impressive delegates and everything paid by the state.
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