Francois Hollande, President of France, led a delegation this week of 260 senior French executives and government officials to Israel for the 2nd annual France-Israel Innovation Day. The objective was to connect French companies with innovative Israeli startups. The group included luminaries such as Patrick Kron Chairman of Alstom, Loic Armand, Chairman of L’Oreal, Stephane Richard Chairman of Orange, Olivier Roussat, Chairman & CEO of Bougyes Telecom, SNCF (the French national railway) President (), Guillaume Pepy, Yannick Bollore, Chairman and CEO of Havas, etc.
In addition, three agreements were signed between French and Israeli partners:
- Orange will launch an office in Israel for enhancing outreach with the Israeli mobile developer community
- Havas will collaborate with Technion, Israel’s most prominent technical university, focusing on leveraging Big Data for consumer insights
- The Ecole Polytechnique and Technion signed a joint cooperation accord
Immediately before presenting to the assembled guests, President Francois Hollande, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres spent a few minutes meeting four Israeli startups:
BRML (BioRobotics and BioMechanics Labs): Demonstrated the “Snakebot”, robot in the shape of a snake, developed by Technion Professor Alon Wolf, that is able to perform tasks in extreme conditions, including difficult surgical procedures.
PrimeSense: 3D sensing technology using infrared for gesture recognition across devices, including the Xbox Kinnect. Also the subject of rumors this week of an impending acquisition by Apple for $345 million.
Viaccess-Orca: Franco-Israeli IPTV middleware company demonstrated their DEEP product, a 2nd Screen (television + mobile devices) content platform.
Cyvera: Cyber-security system protecting against zero-day attacks and eliminating exploitation risks from unpatched computer systems, based on the human immune system.
While Israel has enjoyed continuous economic growth since 2002, Hollande is confronting a sluggish economy, youth unemployment of 26.1% and a public approval rating of 15%. He sought to link the role of startups in boosting macro-economic growth. “We want to help entrepreneurs increase their potential and realize their dreams”. The last word went to his minister for SMEs, Fleur Pellerin, who said “I hope we can remind everyone that entrepreneur is a French word”.
Vive le France and vive l’esprit d’entreprise!!
* Levi Shapiro is a Partner in the JIMMI Fund (www.jimmifund.com), working with global tech companies to invest in Israeli start-ups. Concurrently, Mr. Shapiro provides strategic advisory to global technology, media and telecom companies as a Senior Partner at TMT Strategic Advisors. Mr. Shapiro is also an Adjunct Professor in the Media Innovation Lab (http://milab.idc.ac.il) at IDC Herzliya, teaching Digital Media Entrepreneurship, Mobile Marketing and other entrepreneurial courses.
During a 20 year career inmedia and technology, including 7 years in Asia, Levi launched new business units(IBM), new products (Toyota) and new startups (TwoMinute Television, Snack Mobile, etc).
He teaches Entrepreneurship and Mobile Marketing as an Adjunct Professor at IDC Herzliya, serves as Mentor in Residence for The Hive accelerator and writes a bi-weekly column about digital media and technology in the Jerusalem Post called "Unleavened Media ".
Mr. Shapiro is a graduate of Tulane (BA), Cornell (Asian Studies) and MIT (MBA)
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