Connecting the Startup Nation to the Land Down Under

30.05.2018
Omri Wislizki, Australian Landing Pad Manager at Austrade
If you have been reading the local Israeli tech news in the last 2 years, you could not have missed the news about the growing Israel Australia relationship, as both countries recognize their shared strategic interests in the future.

Israeli companies and VC’s raising funds from Australian LP’s, Australian corporates actively searching for innovation in Israel, Israeli companies (15 to date) going public on the ASX, bilateral R&D agreements, Israeli companies entering the Australian market, the  first - ever Israel Australia innovation conference and the opening of the Australian Government Landing Pad in Tel Aviv serving Australian founders (45 to date) connecting them to the Israeli ecosystem.

2017 was an important and meaningful year for the Australian Israeli connection as both countries celebrated the 100th year anniversary for the battle of Beer-Sheva, where the Australian light horse brigade, heroically charged the Ottoman soldiers in Beer-Sheva to take over a crucial strategic piece of land.  An important historical landmark battle in the British Empire-Middle East fight against the Ottomans.

The celebrations were marked by the first-ever sitting Israeli Prime Minister to visit Australia as well as a visit by current Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnball, to Israel.

And this is just the beginning.
 
In the past 2 years, I have been managing the Australian Landing Pad in Tel Aviv, and together with my colleagues, have been in the center of connecting the two innovation ecosystems to create new opportunities and collaborations.

Here are my thoughts for the next few years of the growing relationship:

Technology:

The growing global interest by governments and corporations for innovation have helped shape the current status of the ‘Start-up Nation,’ and Australia is becoming an important player for growing Israeli Tech Firms looking for a footprint in the 13th largest economy in the world, and a key entrance point for Asia.

From companies establishing a full Australian operation to SaaS companies distributing their solutions, the enormous size of the continent and the economy have become a new land of opportunity for Israeli companies to scale their business globally.

The fact that the language is English and its a very friendly business environment, definitely helps.

On the Australian side, we see through our Landing Pad how the Israeli ecosystem can play a crucial role as a global ecosystem, connecting (in our case) Australian startups to the flourishing Israeli ecosystem and the global players based here.

Sectors where there is much potential for growth on both sides for commercial and R&D:

Agritech, Fintech, Cyber, Foodtech, energy and Life science.

R&D:

The Israeli Innovation Authority has 2 established agreements with the states of NSW (Sydney) and Victoria (Melbourne), and are in final stages of another strategic agreement,  to provide matched funding for companies on both sides who want to undertake an R&D project together. This is a great opportunity for companies to develop global solutions using the vast sea of knowledge on both sides of our planet.

We have seen a growth in the demand of companies for these opportunities as well as strong efforts on both sides who have established dedicated teams to support these opportunities.

Money:

As mentioned we have seen money from both economies exchanging hands to help grow the next big technology innovations.

On the Israeli side, there has been a big wave of private Australian money coming into local VC’s and other funding platforms (such as OurCrowd and iAngels), as well as directly into startups.

Another recently popular way for Israeli companies to raise funds is to IPO on the ASX (Australian Stock Exchange), a well-established and managed stock exchange perfect for startups looking to raise 5-10M$ (and becoming public).

A new trend we are noticing are new funds being established by Israeli and Australian partners with the aim of investing in startups in both countries. This model has proven to work in the case of Square Peg VC, and Australian VC with a local office and a strong Australian and Israeli portfolio of companies.

The recent visits by both prime ministers in 2017 have also been backed by agreements to double the trade and investments between the countries (currently a total of 1B$), as well as signed agreements for collaboration on projects on homeland security.

On a personal note,

The acceptance our program and the Australian founders we work with have received in Israel is extraordinary.

The startups and innovation community in Israel received us with open hands and hearts, sharing their stories and providing the entrepreneurs some real (in your face) Israeli feedback which they all appreciate.

The feedback and experience in Israel have helped our companies validate their business model and product, and 100% of participants recommend other Australian founders to apply. 

The last 2 years have shown us the great natural connection Israelis and Australians have - a connection, culture, and state of mind I believe will lead to new and exciting collaborations between the 2 countries.

And who knows, maybe one day, even a direct flight ☺

Omri Wislizki is the Australian Landing Pad Manager in Tel Aviv and has been with Austrade since May, 2016. As part of the Landing Pads team, Omri works with Australian startups seeking to access the global market and Israeli innovation ecosystem.

Prior to joining Austrade, Omri was a technology scout for the Korean multi-national LG, as well as the Business Development Manager at artbit app.

Since joining Austrade, Omri has been at the center of linking the Australian and Israeli innovation ecosystem and developing strong networks and business relations within investor, startups, multinational innovation and R&D centers, governments and research communities.

 Omri Wislizki (Views are my own)