Now that our mission to Israel is over, it’s time to collect some comments. Was the experience useful for the startups (and other companies) that participated? What did they learn?
This September, a delegation of 70 Belgian startups and corporates discovered the assets of ‘Silicon Wadi’ during a large-scale mission organized by the City of Antwerp, Startups.be, Flanders Cleantech Association and i-Cleantech Vlaanderen.
The mission focused - amongst other things such as foodtech and health - on two important growth sectors for Antwerp: digital innovation and cleantech. It took place simultaneously with the prestigious DLD Festival in Tel Aviv.
“For me the mission was a succes”, stresses Katja Schipperheijn from The Learnscape. Katja and her team built a digital learning platform (‘sCool’) for young children, that arouses a lot of interest in and outside Belgium.
“I got to pitch for local investors, was invited by the Ministry of Education, I found three Israeli schools that want to do a sCool-pilot, and I’m setting up a franchise model in Israel. In other words, I’m a happy camper. The mission to Israel was ideal to do prospection work and to find partners.”
"I'm setting up a franchise model in Israel"
“I also thought it was a very interesting mission”, adds Bruno Mattheeuws from Organice Waste Systems (OWS), "because I learned there’s still a lot of work in our domain in Israel. It's a good time to be in that country because there is a lot of interest in the services we offer. It’s very clear that Israel is evolving towards a place that addresses its waste issues in a more ecological way.”
"I’ve been looking for customers and for partners in Israel. Since it’s not easy to enter the market, a joint venture with a local partner - to set up a factory that processes waste - would probably be the way to go.”
Founder of food photography and food management specialist Apicbase Carl Jacobs highlights the networking parts of the mission. “I got to know many Belgian startups and other organizations. Quite a few bonds were forged, you really take the time to talk to people you would not engage with in a ‘normal’ setting. To me, those connections are even more important than the connections you make with the Israeli startups.”
Sebastian Rummens from staff planner Forganiser agrees. “I’ve deepened the ties with quite a few people that I hadn’t seen in a while, and I’ve established some very good contacts with the people from the city of Antwerp. That’s very valuable indeed!”
“I also feel that Israeli investors are looking to Europe more explicitly, because they know that European technology is topnotch, and that the validations of our companies are lower than in the US. That makes it interesting for them to meet with us.”
“Israeli are strong players in it and in software”, says Guillaume Wegria of Fyteko, a startup that develops advanced plant biostimulants, “but when you look at our biotech-scene in Belgium, or at our cleantech companies, we have nothing to be ashamed of.”
“Israeli are very good marketers, they can launch a startup like no one else”, adds Wegria. “Their way of doing business is also very direct and very flexible, you almost feel threatened when they talk to you. Their mindset is completely different from ours.”
"You almost feel threatened when they talk to you"
“I’ve been talking to people from the six biggest Israeli agriculture-specialists during the mission, for me, that’s definitely super exciting! The good thing is that most of them are really interested in what we are doing. Now it is up to us to find the right partner.”
Do you want to learn more about our mission to Israel? Read our full report here!