YIFTAH CURIEL
(Spokesman for the Israeli Embassy, London)

Hi-tech Israel's on top of the world

LAST year, Google spent a cool billion dollars purchasing Waze, the groundbreaking crowd-sourced navigation app which allows drivers to alert one another to any flare-ups in traffic and hazards on the road via social media.

The Waze acquisition made waves in the media, and this map-based app also placed Israel on the map for investors as a major centre of technological innovation.

This ought to come as no surprise. As authors Dan Senor and Saul Singer pointed out in their 2009 book Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle, Israel has more companies on the Nasdaq stock exchange than Korea, Japan, Singapore, India and all of Europe combined.

Earlier this month, BBC's flagship technology programme Click took its team led by Spencer Kelly to film a programme about Israel - the start-up nation that was the birthplace of the USB stick.

Kelly got behind the wheel to show off an Israeli self-driving car made by MobilEye, which he noted was the "first autonomous car to handle itself at a junction".

Alongside the self-driving car, Click viewers also caught a glimpse of the Air Mule, an air ambulance that acts as a flying car, designed for speedily removing casualties from the battlefield.

The Click team also profiled OpGal, which is packaging for the consumer market technology that was originally fashioned in the military.

Their featured invention was ThermaApp - a mobile phone camera with enhanced features that lets you view thermal images, and possibly even to view tumours.

Click looked at another device to identify cancer which was developed by MobileOCT, that can potentially turn any smartphone into a colposcope and can be used by community workers to identify cervical cancer in women.

MobileOCT plan to make their invention open to all, via 3D printing. Yet it is not just investors who are looking to Israeli entrepreneurs for venture opportunities.

British entrepreneurs are also seeking to co-operate with their Israeli counterparts. With this in mind, the Israeli embassy is proud to support the Bizcamp competition (http://www.bizcamptelaviv.com), which aims to find the UK's best early-stage start-ups and link them up with entrepreneurs from across Europe at a boot camp in Tel Aviv.

The competition was launched in partnership with Facebook, and will take place on Tuesday, July 22. This year's judges include industry leaders from Facebook and Google, as well as The Next web editor Martin Bryant and Israel's ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub.

The competition is open to tech start-ups in the Early Seed fund stages, and the winner will be flown to Israel to participate in the DLD Tel-Aviv Digital Conference, joining 19 other winners from around the world in meetings with investors, experts and entrepreneurs.

Last year's winners were Al Mackin and Tom New of Formisimo - a unique startup which created a tool to measure how visitors interact with online forms.

Recently, Formisimo won 350,000 in a seed investment round, with one of Europe's leading accelerators Seedcamp investing heavily in the company. Formisimo were able to use their victory at Bizcamp in 2013 as a launchpad for their success.

Following their recent good news about funding on their website, Formisimo founder Mackin reflected on his trip to Tel Aviv: "It was a five-day period that had a dramatic impact, the kind of experience you want to recreate . . ."

Mackin added: "We met so many great people, from other start-ups to tech leaders.

"We slept so little and we came back as a stronger business and unit than when we left. Wherever our journey takes us, Tel Aviv will for ever be a big shiny pin on our roadmap."

This year's winner will also have an opportunity to carve their own path to success via Tel Aviv, and to learn from Israeli experts how best to package their product and ensure it reaches a wider audience.

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