The organizer of a business match-making event between Arab Israeli and Ottawa tech companies said Wednesday the event succeeded beyond expectations.
Henri Rothschild, president of the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation, said he expects Tuesday’s event could result in as many as 12 partnerships.
Events were hosted in Toronto at the MaRS Discovery District and in Ottawa at Carleton University, where the school’s Technology Innovation Management program played host.
Mr. Rothschild said the goal was to not only expose Ontario companies to the 12 Israeli firms represented on the trip, but also to tout the benefits of teaming up on projects.
“If they want a partner in North America, if they want a presence in North America, Canada in this particular case, Ontario, is in many areas a more attractive place in which to build a presence than the United States,” he said, citing existing infrastructure and support from governments and organizations such as Carleton’s TIM.
Mr. Rothschild said the Israeli companies were selected based on due diligence done by the Israeli government’s chief scientist, as well as the level of interest the Ontario companies had in meeting them. The goal, he said, was to arrange at least three one-on-one meetings for each company.
In the end, each firm got between six and eight meetings, he said, and four extended their Canadian trips to do site visits with potential Ontario partners.
Saher Hamed, CEO of Remedor Biomed, said any partnership anywhere in the world would be beneficial for his company, which is developing a drug to treat diabetics who have skin injuries.
“We see in Ontario an excellent opportunity to us,” he said. “Canada is situated very good in the global market because it is very close to the USA, similar to the USA.”
The diversity of the province's population is also attractive, he said, since clinical tests on drugs must include people from different ethnicities.
Mr. Hamed said he made many good connections at Carleton, adding there will be followups.
“I think if this is a feasible thing in terms of technology co-operations and partnering, then things will be possible and very, very soon,” he said.
The Ottawa firms involved were all part of Carleton accelerator Lead to Win's network, said TIM director Tony Bailetti.
Mr. Bailetti said the event fit with Lead to Win’s “big push” to get its companies to think globally from the start, as the Israeli companies already do.
He said he wants to keep cultivating connections made at the event.
“Lead to Win is a place where they can come whenever they need to do business in Canada,” he said.
And while there is a very good chance many of these companies will return to Ontario, Mr. Rothschild said a reciprocal trip could be in the works as well. Premier Kathleen Wynne is set to visit Israel in May and Mr. Rothschild said he would like to see some of the Ottawa companies accompany her.
Mr. Rothschild said the Israeli business community is very interconnected and the success of Tuesday’s event will be well-known in a very short period of time, making another Ottawa event a real possibility.
“Maybe for the fall colours instead of winter,” he said.