New Zealand Israel Business Update – March 2023

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Josh Brown, co-director of the New Zealand Israel Innovation Hub has recently written an article in the National Business Review, in which he discusses New Zealand’s potential as the ‘startup nation of the South Pacific and how he travelled to Te Aviv  “to explore and study the country’s rumoured tech ecosystems and to seek opportunities for bilateral collaboration”.  He writes,

“In 15 years, despite political instability and conflict, Israel’s GDP per capita ranking had soared from 43th to 14th.  I went to work to understand how this tech transformation had come about and what initiatives could be brought back and adapted for the New Zealand context”.

Josh reports on some of the New Zealand Israel Innovation Hub’s recent activities in Israel.

It’s been a big couple of months for the New Zealand Israel Innovation Hub and for business between Israel and New Zealand generally.  This update covers some of the more important happenings since our last update in December.

On 9 January, the Hub hosted an online information session about the upcoming World Avocado Congress New Zealand in April 2023, with Jen Scoular and Phillip West of NZ Avocado presenting from New Zealand. A large contingent of Israelis are expected to attend, possibly the largest ever and the information session presented some info about what attendees could expect.

On 20 January, the New Zealand Israel Innovation Hub Israel launch party took place at the ThinkUp offices. Around 50-60 people attended the event to network, to hear about the work of the Hub, the bilateral relationship and about the trade and partnership opportunities that exist between the two countries. Following speeches by Karin Sugar (Lehmann), Rachel Fabian-Edelman and Deborah Garzon Rosenberg, Josh Brown spoke about the work of the Hub, areas of focus, strategic goals and the NGO’s business model. The Hub can now pitch itself as being a business gateway to New Zealand and will focus its efforts in 2023 to bring New Zealand and Israel closer together through trade, investment and business/R&D collaboration.

On Waitangi Day, 6 February, the Hub hosted the first ever Waitangi Day celebration in Jerusalem. Around 60 Israeli Kiwis and friends of New Zealand braved the winter weather in Jerusalem to show support for New Zealand, especially pertinent at the time given New Zealand was being impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle.  There were many distinguished guests. The Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum spoke about her support for a strong Israel–New Zealand partnership and we were honoured by the presence of senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials Jonathan Zadka and H.E. Rafael Harpaz who addressed the historical ties between the countries and the importance of continued international cooperation between New Zealand and Israel. We also heard speeches by Josh Brown, Yitzhak Treister, Yossi Eshed, Paul Israel and a recorded message by the non-resident Ambassador to Israel Zoe Coulson Sinclair.

On 15 February, Joey Sacharow as Israel Director, represented the Hub at the OurCrowd Investor Summit. He spoke with investors, VCs, founders, and people from across the business and tech spectrum. The message he received from all of them was loud and clear: New Zealand is an exciting and mostly untapped frontier for trade, business opportunities, and R&D collaboration.

On 21 February, the Hub in partnership with Auckland University hosted a round-table discussion, with six experts from New Zealand and Israel talking about the latest cutting-edge AI tech cyber, Agritech and biotechnology. The discussion was super fascinating with an acknowledgement that researchers from both countries are making significant contributions to the advancement of AI in these fields. The panellists were Tamir Tuller of TAU, Dan Erez of Taranis, Tal Fialkow of Bold, Patrice of the Auckland University and Izak Tait of the Nao Institute at Auckland University.

Finally, we loved this episode of the New Zealand Story Podcast. In this episode, Dr Ron Tenenbaum of The Clinician talks about his journey, the local startup scene and its challenges. The clinician is a healthcare startup founded and operated by Israelis in Auckland. It’s a shining example of New Zealand Israel high-tech collaboration and many of its customers are overseas, including Israel.  You can listen to it here:  https://www.fernmark.nzstory.govt.nz/node/48