International Network

Technology and Chutzpah: BME delegation visited Israel
01/12 2020 // International

Technology and Chutzpah: BME delegation visited Israel

Dream big: The logo in front of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation expresses very well the attitude of the start-up nation Israel. Photos: Tobias Anslinger/BME

In mid-December, a small group of procurement thinkers and technology enthusiasts travelled to Israel on the initiative of BME. Start-ups, venture capital units and accelerators were visited. The response was more than positive.

There are 8,300 start-ups in Israel. In relation to its population no other country in the world has such a high density of young companies as this small country between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. The USB stick, the traffic flow display on Google Maps, instant messaging – and the cherry tomato, too! 
all these were invented in Israel. The country regularly occupies top positions in global innovation rankings.*

Silicon Wadi instead of Silicon Valley

But there are not only young tech companies. Accelerators, business angels and incubators (about 350 in all) in the country bring start-ups together with suitable investors (more than 100 venture capital units) from all over the world. According to the IVC Research Center, 2018 was a record year for financing high-tech start-ups in Israel: almost $6.5 billion was invested, an increase of 17 percent over 2017 and more than double the amount in 2013. "The impressive speed and willingness of all players to make a difference is omnipresent," says Matthias Berg, Head of Research and Development at BME.

It is therefore hardly surprising that many a global player has long since put out feelers towrds Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. German companies are also already occasionally doing technology scouting with their own branch in "Silicon Wadi", as the start-up hub Israel is called in reference to the American Silicon Valley. According to the German-Israeli Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which arranged the trip for the BME delegation, 18 of the Dax 30 companies are already on site. German small and medium-sized companies are still hesitant. Berg makes an appeal to German companies: "Can Germany afford to lag behind the USA and China, both in terms of investors and early adopters?”

Close interlocking of science, industry, politics and the military

The advantages of the country are based on a unique ecosystem: the close intertwining of universities, industry, the military, government and private investors creates the framework for a wide range of technological innovations.

Many of the technologies that are increasingly in demand today in purchasing and supply management, such as blockchain, 3-D printing or artificial intelligence, which can be used in the fields of security (cybersecurity), medical technology, the automotive industry or logistics, were once and are still being developed for military security and defence purposes and then transferred to civil use. It is not uncommon for the founders of a start-up company to know each other from their time together in the Israeli army, many of whom served in the elite unit 8200 (pronounced eight-two hundred).

Added to this is the chutzpah so typical of the Israelis, a mixture of fearlessness, audacity, insolence and daring. It ensures that things are always critically scrutinized, but at the same time pushed forward quickly and without complication. "We prefer to ask for forgiveness afterwards than to ask for permission before," said a young entrepreneur in conversation with the BME delegation.

No fear of failure, diversity in the team and exchange and networking at "any price" are characteristics that distinguish all tech companies. "There is no protectionism because of 'one' good idea", was the impression of Matthias Berg.

B2B Matchmaking to the point

BME's purchasing group met at a total of 15 start-ups, venture capital units and accelerators in the country (see overview below), with on-site visits, pitches and business lunches alternating pleasantly perfectly organized and accompanied by the staff of the German-Israeli Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AHK) under the leadership of Managing Director Grisha Alroi-Arloser. At the end of the intensive but highly interesting three-day programme, the response of the participants was unanimous: we will be back.

Mirjam Zeller, Managing Director of BME Marketing GmbH, concluded: "These were impressive days, which will continue to resonate with our BME member companies. The B2B matchmaking for those responsible for purchasing was to the point, we got to know forward-looking companies, were confronted with new ideas and were able to discuss the innovative strength of German companies, tailor-made for BME. Quite apart from that, we met super-hearted people on site, and they gave us a new picture of Israel. A heartfelt thank you for that!”

Mirjam Zeller, Matthias Berg and Tobias Anslinger accompanied the trip to Israel on behalf of BME.

* Tobias Anslinger, BME, reported on the trip to Israel

Who was visited?

Artificial Intelligence  

3-D printing   

Industry 4.0/Machine Learning  

Logistics/Track and Trace  

Innovation Center, Incubators, Accelerators, Venture Capital


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Olaf Holzgrefe Head of International & Affairs
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Marlene Grauer International Project Manager, Project Coordinator Procure2Innovate
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Lisa Immensack International Project Manager, Project Coordinator ConnectAchat
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Giselle Canahuati International Team Assistant
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