World news story

Israeli tech executives see UK as preferred business destination

New survey of the Israeli tech industry reveals strong interest in exploring tech partnerships with the UK.

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Israeli tech companies and investors increasingly view the UK as a key destination for business and technological collaboration and a vast majority is looking to expand cooperation with the country.These are some of the findings in a new survey of Israeli tech executives and investors, which reflect the increased UK-Israel trade and business cooperation of recent years.

The survey was conducted in Q4 of 2015, by New Wave Research polling firm which is part of Nielsen Israel group. It included 250 executives and investors from Israel’s hi-tech industry, including life sciences and cleantech.

Haim Shani, Chairman of the UK Israel Tech Hub and former Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Finance, said of the findings: “they reflect the growing opportunities Israeli companies see in the UK economy. Specific sectors in Israel - such as fintech, cyber security, and biomed – are making great steps toward global growth by forging partnerships with their respective peers in Britain.”

Naomi Krieger Carmy, Director of the UK Israel Tech Hub, said: “the survey’s findings confirm what we have been hearing on the ground in recent years: that the UK offers great opportunities for Israeli innovation, because it is Europe’s business capital, the world’s biggest financial centre, has a friendly environment for start-ups and an excellent science infrastructure. All of this can be found just 4.5 hours of flight from Israel.”

According to the survey, the UK is one of the top three global destinations for business and tech collaboration: 26% of Israeli tech executives and 15 % of investors said the UK is the first or second most attractive country for them. Within Europe, the UK is a leading destination: 55% of investors said it is the most attractive destination for tech and business collaboration and 68% rated it as one of the top two; Sixty-four percent of tech executives held the same views. Among European countries, only Germany enjoyed similar ratings.

Eighty-nine percent of tech companies and 86% of investors expressed interest in business and tech cooperation with the UK, and about half (50% of tech companies, and 52% of investors) said they have such collaborations or are actively searching for them. Those figures increase according to the business maturity level of the companies: 33% in seed level, 47% in R&D stage, and 64% in the growth stage (revenue).

The survey shows that interest in the UK as a business and tech destination has significantly increased recently: 76% of the tech companies seeking partnerships with the UK began doing so in the past three years, with 56% starting in the past year alone. These figures mirror increased trade figures between the UK and Israel in recent years, including hundreds of partnerships in the tech sector.

Those surveyed emphasized they viewed the UK as attractive because of its large market size which also serves as a gateway to other large global markets; the ability to easily communicate in English; and the UK’s technological innovation and its excellent science institutions. Only 3% of those surveyed mentioned anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiments as a factor in their business relationship with the UK.

The UK Government pays special attention to increasing tech cooperation with Israel: since 2011 it runs the UK Israel Tech Hub within the British Embassy in Tel Aviv. The Hub, tasked with creating tech partnerships between Israeli companies and the British market, has facilitated over 80 such collaborations and increases awareness in both countries to existing opportunities. The survey reveals that Israelis are greatly interested in this initiative: 84% of tech executives and around 70% of investors said they would like to work with the UK Israel Tech Hub.

Among Israeli tech executives who have an existing relationship with the UK Israel Tech Hub, 80% said the UK is an attractive business and tech destination, and 66% of them presently have such partnerships with the UK. In addition, 80% held positive views of the work with the UK Israel Tech Hub, 90% would like to increase cooperation with the Hub, and around a third said their views of the UK changed for the better after engaging with the Hub.

Among tech executives who worked with the Hub, only 2% said the UK is not an attractive destination for business and tech cooperation, compared to 5% of all tech executives.

Published 9 March 2016