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India, Israel: Innovation drives diplomacy

India, Israel: Innovation drives diplomacy

Cooperation in technology and innovation bringing two nations closer together

India’s largest corporate house Reliance Industries has announced its plans to make big and long-term investments in Israel. Reliance Industries, a Fortune 500 Company owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, is the largest private sector company in India with a market capitalisation of well over $40 billion.

Founded in 1966, Reliance Industries made its initial fortune in oil and natural gas sector. Recently, the company has invested billions of dollars in building a telecommunications network across India. The state-of-the-art nationwide cellular network build at the cost of estimated $15 billion opens new possibilities in retail, finance and healthcare. The company is looking for Israeli know-how and talent to fully exploit these possibilities, creating services for 100-200 million potential customers across the Indian sub-continent.

Talking to Israeli media, managing partner of the company’s venture capital arm GenNext, Vivek Rai Gupta said that his company was working to build a nationwide customer base and there would be “no limit” on company’s investment in Israel. Israeli financial news website Globes Einglish quoted Gupta saying:

“We want to hook up to the Israeli ecosystem, and to discover more innovative companies that can enhance the value of the cellular network whose deployment we’re completing right now,” GenNext managing partner Vivek Rai Gupta, currently visiting Israel, said in “Globes” interview. “The network [mobile network reaching 800 cities] we’re setting up is only a pipeline, and we’re looking for interesting things through which we can provide value for our users in India.”

Mobile-based technology carries the promise of improving everyday life for millions of Indians living in rural and remotely accessible regions — from proving healthcare, vocational education, banking to even coordinating disaster relief.

Reliance Telecom hopes to hire the best talent and disruptive technology to beat the stiff competition it faces at home. Reliance’s main Indian competitor in telecom, Tata Group has already carved a strong presence for itself in Israel. Tata Group is the lead investor in Tel Aviv University’s $20 million technology fund aimed at converting academic research into industry-relevant solutions.

India’s leading IT companies have also made large acquisitions and investments in Israel. Infosys, Tech Mahindra have set up R&D operations and venture capital arms to invest in promising start up ideas in Israel.

So why are leading Indian companies betting big on the Start Up Nation? They are driven by a simple fact that Israel offers them the best return on their investment when it comes to getting world class innovation and talent. Indian Companies competing in tough global market know what decisive difference technology and innovation can make to their businesses.

Israel’s growing trade and technology ties with India have not gone unnoticed by the anti-Israel boycott campaign (BDS movement). In June 2014, Grand Mufti of Palestine Mohammed AH Hussein travelled across India and giving public calls to boycott Israel, accusing Israel of “desecrating” Muslim holy sites. India’s left-wing political and academic groups too have been vocal in their calls to boycott Israel, but so far they have failed in registering any tangible success.

Meanwhile, Israeli film festivals, art exhibitions and music concerts are organised in cities all across India; bilateral trade has grown from about $200 million in 1990s to over $5 billion in 2014-15; and Prime Ministers Modi is expected to visit Israel soon.

Interview: Yossi Vardi, one of Israel’s first high-tech entrepreneurs, talks to Indian broadcaster Boom Live

(Cover image courtesy Digital India, Government of India)


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Smart tech money has been in Israel for decades. Microsoft has had a center for developers there for over two decades and now has a full blown R&D center and venture accelerator lab for new tech startups.