The IDIC was established in December 2016 with the specific aim of linking cutting edge technologies from Israel and the Netherlands to benefit of both countries. It is based at the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv and part of the department of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands.
Although the word innovation seems to have become meaningless from overuse, new inventions and rapidly improving technologies are changing the world at an unprecedented level, affecting us at many levels. In the race for the next disruptive breakthrough, joining forces is a logical step. However, as the science is often pre-start-up level, finding a match can be a challenge. The IDIC embraces this challenge and fosters valuable and effective relations between parties from Israel and the Netherlands.
Often this takes the form of scouting missions, connecting hubs from both countries and matchmaking efforts. Other times, the focus is on events, such as innovation days, arranging speaking engagements or networking events. R&D collaborations between Dutch and Israeli organizations or connecting them to obtain outside funding - such as Horizon Europe - is another way to promote cooperation.
The IDIC is part of a larger structure, called the Netherlands Innovation Network, which consists of 43 innovation attachés based in 16 countries worldwide. The network is under the auspices of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, which specifically aims to innovate the sectors of High Tech Systems & Materials, Cybersecurity & ICT, Agro & Food and Life Sciences & Health.
In short, innovation means maneuvering in a complicated maze where finding matches between interested parties is a challenge to say the least. The IDIC offers different approaches to its clientele: Large Dutch organizations and government entities come on specific scouting missions or innovation seminars; Israeli companies may look for pilot projects or pitching opportunities and Academic institutions are interested in funding or speaking engagements.
Following is a description of the approaches and examples of activities carried out in the last few years.
“Startup Nation” missions
On the occasions when Dutch government officials and policy makers come with delegations to investigate the Israeli startup scene, the IDIC aims to show these key decision makers that there is so much investment in new technology from so many directions that the Start-up Nation is deserving of its name.
The latest startup nation mission took place in June 2017 when StartupDelta Envoy Prince Constantijn came with a delegation to meet with organizations on all levels, such as accelerators, venture capital firms, the Israel Innovation Authority and university tech transfer companies. The delegation also investigated whether the database that Israel’s Start-up Nation Central uses to keep track of all the Israeli startups can be adapted to be used in the Netherlands.
In June 2016, State Secretary of the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Science and Culture Sander Dekker and Director General for Enterprise and Innovation of the Ministry of Economic Affairs Mr. Bertholt Leeftink brought a delegation to Israel to boost bilateral cooperation between the Netherlands and Israel.
In May 2016, former minister of foreign affairs and Special Envoy for the Global Conference on Cyber Space, Prof. Uri Rosenthal attended Cybertech 2016 which intensified bilateral cooperation on cyber.
In September 2015, Startup Delta’s former envoy Neelie Kroes and Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp were in Tel Aviv for the DLD-Festival and visited medical start-up incubator Sanara, a joint venture of Philips and Teva.
When requests come from the Netherlands to search for new technologies in a specific sector, a tailor-made schedule is set up with key people at companies with cutting edge solutions. Such missions from Dutch R&D Centers have led to the signing of MOU’s in the fields of Chemistry, Photonics and Robotics.
February 2018 saw the signing of an MOU between the Royal Dutch Chemical Society (KNCV) and the Israel Chemical Society (ICS). This took place at the 83rd Annual conference of the ICS in front of a large audience in Israel. The MOU was a direct result of the participation of the Netherlands Innovation Network at the Chemistry Conference in the Netherlands in 2016. There was a substantial delegation from the Netherlands, including Prof. Ben Feringa, 2016 Chemistry Nobel prize winner, 10 Dutch Professors and 20 Dutch students.
In January 2018 the IDIC, together with InnovationQuarter, co-organized a delegation from the City and the Port of Rotterdam to Israel. The mission was led by the deputy mayor Maarten Struijvenberg and included key decision makers from the Port of Rotterdam, Cambridge Innovation Center, several private companies and investors. Meetings took place at the Israeli Port Authority, the Israel Innovation Authority, StartupNationCentral, theDOCK, the Ports of Haifa and Ashdod, and Sanara Ventures.
In 2017, the IDIC took a delegation from StartupBootcamp FinTech & CyberSecurity as well as members of the Dutch government, to visit CyberSpark in the cyber hub of Be’er Sheva to scout for Israel cybersecurity, fintech and insurtech technology.
In September 2016, two MOUs were signed. The first one by TU Eindhoven Institute for Photonic Integration together with Photon Delta signed a Photonics MoU to commit to a joint R&D program with the Israel Center for Advanced Photonics; the second one was between the Israel Robotic Association (IROB) and Robovalley (powered by the Technical University Delft Robotics Institute).
Matchmaking and pilot projects
There is a keen interest on both the Israeli and Dutch sides to find partners in each other’s countries. Matchmaking is one of the more productive approaches of the IDIC.
In September 2017, TNO and Holst, under the auspices of key deputies of the Province of Noord Brabant and delegates from Brainport, came to show the latest innovations in 3D Printing, flexible printing and OLED technologies. These seminars will likely be an annual occurrence as there is a unique fit between what Holst is looking to buy and sell. It fits right in with the High-Tech Systems and Materials sector of the IDIC.
WATEC Israel is a bi-annual event. Israel is a natural venue, as it is one of the first and rare countries to successfully overcome its limitation in water resources. The IDIC combined the WATEC conference with a visit from students who were here for a two-week Wetskills Water Challenge Program and hosted a networking event at the residence of the Dutch ambassador.
In August 2016, Dutch company KeyGene scouted for Israeli breeding and big data genomics software. Israel’s Phenome Networks agreed to establish a strategic partnership in this growing market. The IDIC was instrumental in organizing matchmaking meetings between the Dutch company and Israeli public and private organizations.
In June 2016, ThetaRay, a leading provider of big data analytics solutions, signed an agreement with ING Netherlands to implement its Advanced Analytics Solution for fraud detection. This was the result of a successful pilot that took place in the Netherlands.
VC and Horizon Europe funding
Developing new technologies and bringing them to market can be expensive. Converting an idea into a prototype requires funding. Whether the idea comes from private industry or the academic world, when Israeli and Dutch initiatives can be combined, the European Framework Program for Research and Innovation, Horizon Europe, offers sources for funding joint applications.
The Netherlands is Israel's sixth most frequent partner in funded Horizon Europe projects.
When the IDIC identifies Dutch and Israeli organizations that have a chance to obtain European subsidies or VC funding, it makes sure to connect them to the right people and organizations.
In February 2017, several Israeli startups and SMEs in Regenerative Medicine took an active part at the Global Investment Forum in Maastricht in the Netherlands to obtain Dutch and international VC funds.
Two months later several Israeli robotics companies sent delegations to The Hague where they pitched for venture capital at the TUS Expo and RoboBusiness conference.
The Israeli Embassy in the Netherlands and the Dutch Embassy in Israel aim to organize annual innovation days together.
Israeli and Dutch companies met in The Hague in February 2016 for a Smart Cities Innovation Day. The event was opened by Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp and his Israeli counterpart Director General Amit Lang. More than twenty Israeli companies in the fields of transportation, energy and security were represented, including Checkmarx, MobilEye and Cellint. The Dutch participants included KPN, Eneco and Siemens.
In June 2014, an innovation day on Healthy aging took place, following which Sanara Ventures was established by Teva Pharmaceuticals and Philips healthcare, in collaboration with the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Israeli Ministry of the Economy, as an independent joint-venture. Currently, Sanara has a portfolio of 11 startup companies.
Exposure to new and focused audiences can give a big boost to a start-up business; Engaging a high-level speaker can bring clout to a conference. The IDIC aims to find a good fit between people and events for maximum effect. When it comes to disruptive advances in emerging technologies, a speaking opportunity can make connections quickly and effectively.
Uri Pachter, Faurecia xWorks’ Technology & Innovation Scout in Israel, was invited to speak at the Automotive Congress in June 2017 with an overview of Israel's innovative ecosystem in the automotive industry.
Prof. Dan Shechtman of the Technion, a Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry, spoke at May 2016’s Startupfest alongside Tim Cook of Apple and Travis Kalanick of Uber. He was invited by former Startup Delta Envoy Neelie Kroes during her visit to Israel in September 2015. His well-known course at the Technion on technological entrepreneurship makes him one of the pioneers of Israel’s startup revolution.
The Netherlands have unofficially divided into several hubs which are centered around different cities and emerging technology fieldsA well-known hub is The Hague Security Delta (HSD), which is the leading security cluster in Europe involved with Cybersecurity. Brainport in Eindhoven specializes in precision engineering and Wageningen is known worldwide as Food Valley. The Dutch national umbrella organization is called Startup Delta, headed by Envoy Prince Constantijn.
The IDIC tries to connect the local Dutch hubs to Israeli ones, such as HSD with CyberSpark. The latter is a joint venture of the Israel National Cyber Bureau in the Prime Minister’s Office, Be’er Sheva Municipality, Ben Gurion University of the Negev and leading companies in the cybersecurity. On top of this here is a concentration of IDF intelligence bases in the immediate vicinity.
In addition, the IDIC makes efforts to link Dutch StartupDelta with Israeli Start-up Nation Central to connect businesses and academia with the latest technologies in both Israel and the Netherlands. The system of Startup Nation Central includes a general database of Israeli start-ups, which is constantly verified and updated by analysts. As Startup Delta aims to be a hub of hubs in the Netherlands it could be beneficial to share this database between the two countries.
Who uses the IDIC services
Dutch clients of the IDIC come mostly from Academia, High Tech, regional hubs, R&D Centers and Banks.
In Academia, the main players are universities: The Academisch Medisch Centrum; Maastricht University; Wageningen UR; the University of Leiden; the Technical University of Eindhoven; the Technical University of Delft; the University of Twente and the Mesa+ Institute for Nanotechnology.
Companies looking for connections to Israeli innovative technology tend to come from large High-Tech businesses, such as ASML, Philips Healthcare, LioniX, Phoenix Software, Hitech group and KeyGene.
There are hubs in many regions, such as Oost nv in Gelderland; Robovalley in Delft; PhotonDelta, Brainport and the Brabantse Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij in Eindhoven and AutomotiveNL in Helmond. The IDIC offers these regional hubs its network to allocate interesting Israeli counterparts.
R&D center Holst comprises of imec in Flanders and TNO in the Netherlands. This applied R&D organization is always on the lookout to sell its technological services to large Israeli companies and comes to Israel at least every year. Banks, such as ING and Rabobank are set up to find the latest technology to keep their accounts and systems safe from hackers. Israeli technology often helps them keep ahead of the game, as in the case where ING purchased Israel’s ThetaRay solution.
Insurance companies – under the heading of insurtech - are now also joining the search for the latest use of technology innovations designed to improve insurance services and to reduce costs.