Gitex Technology Week 2020 opened a broad pathway of opportunities for the regional tech sector. Israeli companies participated for the first time, officially introducing technology from the ‘startup nation’ to the GCC market.
The involvement of Israel was following the Abraham Accord agreement between the UAE and Israel signed in September to normalize ties and bring coordination in trade, travel and other prominent sectors of the countries.
One of the Israeli companies attracted to Dubai was Kramer Electronics, which manufactures professional audio/video (AV) products and its range includes input and output devices like screens, video walls, microphones, and cameras, as well as connecting products including cable connectors extenders, routers, switches, amplifiers, converters, signal processors, and others.
“The UAE was a market where we were unable to operate despite many local companies in the UAE being eager to work with Kramer based on interactions at industry events like IFC and InfoComm. Everything happened very quickly once the normalization of the relationship between Israel and the UAE was announced. In less than three months, we received a wave of inquiries from companies that wanted to sell, buy and integrate our products here,” says Samuel Bonomo, executive VP at Kramer.
With Gitex, Bonomo says the company received partnership inquiries from 10 companies. Kramer signed an exclusive distributorship deal with UAE-based Abcom Distribution which is a subsidiary of the technology company, Almoe.
“The UAE and Israel were very keen to work together, we just needed opening up to allow the current state of cooperation to take place,” says Bonomo.
Israel-based venture capital firm, BuiltUp Ventures investing in innovative Israeli real-estate tech startups. The firm played a crucial role in bringing together experts in both real estate and technology from Israel and the US.
“Israel is a place where technology thrives, whether it’s big data, AI or blockchain. For us, it’s all about wrapping these technologies and providing a solution to the real estate sector, which has traditionally been very conservative. As pioneers of proptech in Israel, it only made sense that we come to Dubai and the UAE, where real estate is a major industry.”
The next stage of development for BuiltUp Ventures is to create a hub in the UAE with partners and use that as a launching pad for the rest of the Middle East and Africa.
Earlier, the real estate industry was almost skeptical about digital technology. But now the real estate developers as well as stakeholders understand the place for innovation. But it doesn’t mean the processes in the industry will be immediately replaced by robots, analytics and AI.
MyTower, backed by BuiltUp Ventures, is an example of a platform designed to break down the barriers for digital transformation. There are properties with 20 different software solutions and dashboards.
“MyTower brings all components together to provide a single point of reference, where developers can manage resident affairs, IoT, consumer services as well generate new revenue streams. This is why localization is key you have to work side by side with regulators to understand who the service providers are, communicate with utilities, etc,” Eliashiv says.
The AV industry is also embracing digitization. Kramer has developed products that enable the use of applications for signal management that’s currently done with hardware. Kramer has also added other applications to its systems, in areas like wireless presentation and collaboration.
With more than 6,000 active startups and an economy focused on industrial high-tech and entrepreneurship, Israel is referred to as the ‘startup nation’. In 2019 the country was ranked fifth in the world for innovation by the Bloomberg Innovation Index. It holds the 13th position in the world for scientific output in terms of the number of scientific publications per million citizens.
Of these 6,000 startups, 300 are in automotive. One of them is REE Automotive, which develops and manufactures modular electric vehicle (EV) platforms. Back in 2013, the founders of Ree predicted the direction of development in mobility. The company then decided to focus on platforms for last-mile and mid-mile delivery as well as EV shuttles.
Ree’s technology evolution is the ability to install the drivetrain, powertrain, steering, the motor, the data unit sensors and AI into the arch of the wheel, which the company refers to as “corners”.
Keren Shemesh, CMO at Ree Automotive says that “Israel is not an automotive nation; we don’t have any vehicle OEMs here. So, it’s amazing we are building the next generation of electric mobility here.”
“We can build any type of platform for any type of usage on top of the modular flat platform,” Shemesh explains. For example, the smallest platform, the 2-tonne P2 is the size of a smart car, which ordinarily carries two seats. But integrating all the components in the wheel creates extra space, which allows the P2 to accommodate four seats.
Ree has already partnered with Japanese Hino and India’s Mahindra to use the company’s platforms in various specifications. The pandemic and the digital push driven by it has increased the consumer demand for autonomous, greener vehicles. Governments worldwide are also actively pushing zero-emission regulations.
The UAE-Israel relations is still in its budding stage, with both sides exploring the prospects. However, Gitex 2020 showed how these two nations can mutually benefit from opportunities that the new economy is bringing.