Australian and Israeli companies are ideally placed to work together, according to two Australian Jewish business leaders who were part of a recent 14-person delegation looking for opportunities in Israel.
The Biomed Israel 2023 Program, whose objective was to explore opportunities for research collaboration, business partnerships, technology translation and commercialisation was organised by Global Victoria, in partnership with the Israel Australia Chamber of Commerce and Austrade.
Andrew Shostak and Daniel Goldman, co-founders of SGG Solutions, which focuses on bringing technologies from Israel and other countries to Australia and other Asia Pacific countries, were part of the delegation and both are enthusiastic about the prospects for cooperation and joint ventures, especially in technology.
Shostak, SGG’s managing director, said Israeli culture, especially the army’s emphasis on using cutting edge technology, acts as a kind of incubator of talent.
“We met many founders of successful startups that had gone through Intelligence and Cyber Security units in the army and then used those skills in their businesses. The army is like a university for them,” he said.
Goldman, the company CFO, says the fact that everyone goes to the army for two or three years gives a lot of young people responsibility and often management experience sooner than they do in Australia.
“It also creates incredible close-knit relationships and bonds from that time in the army that then translates into the business arena, but then on top of that in Israel, there’s a very clear understanding that failure is not seen as a negative thing, it’s seen as a learning experience,” he said.
The Israeli healthcare industry is a global leader in innovation across various medical fields.
An example of the innovative tech coming out of Israel right now is Bina.ai, software that uses a phone camera to measure vital signs such as heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and a number of bloodless blood tests including HbA1c just from scanning the face.
“At a doctor’s clinic, you’d imagine a full waiting room, so a nurse can do this prior to seeing the doctor, all the vital signs have already been checked. So we have the Australian distributorship of this and are talking to companies now in Australia, but also in Asia,” Shostak said.
While Israel can offer high-tech start-ups, the SGG co-founders believe Australia can offer them a safer test market that’s an alternative to trying to crack the high-risk US market.
Shostak says rather than fail in the US and perhaps give up entirely, Israeli firms can try their products out in our market of 25 million people and if the idea succeeds in Australia then they can take it to Asia and the US.
Both men say there is still not enough knowledge about what Israel and Australia can offer each other, but a lot of work is being done to bridge the gap, especially by Global Victoria and the AICC.
Goldman said, “If you’re an Australian company, the recently launched VISTECH grant scheme makes up to $250,000 available to support innovative collaborative R&D projects between Victorian and Israeli companies. I think the Victorian government is doing a great job promoting the relationship, as is the AICC.”