Mind The Tech TLV
“The flow of Japanese companies and investors to Israel started long before we established ties with the Gulf states”
Yinnon Dolev, Head of Sompo Digital Lab Israel, explains at Mind The Tech TLV why Japanese companies are looking for Israeli partnerships
Since arriving in Israel in 2018, Sompo has invested more than $20 million into Israeli startups and established collaborations with companies like Intuition Robotics, Nexar, Guardian, Sensifree, and Binah.ai. Last month it announced a new collaboration with Japanese tech giant NTT DATA in which they will seek partnerships in Israel in quantum cryptography, secure computation, IoT sensor devices, and video content analytics.
"The flow of Japanese companies and investors to Israel started long before the warming of the relationships with the Gulf states. It happened over the past 3-4 years following meetings between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Israel's Prime Minister and his visit to Israel in January 2015," said Dolev. "That led to many Japanese delegations visiting the country and over the past three years we are seeing the founding of Israeli-Japanese VCs."
Dolev explained the differences between a Japanese and American investor and what are usually the main interests of the former.
"The Japanese investor is focused on technology and innovation. Japan is the world's third-biggest economy and it is dealing with different challenges, for example, the aging of the population. Japan needs to import entrepreneurship and innovation and Israeli startups can provide this.
"Unlike a U.S. investor who comes to Israel from a competitive market in which many funds are fighting to invest in good startups and he is looking for alternatives, in Japan, there aren't enough startups," added Dolev. "The Japanese are very particular when it comes to the details. An entrepreneur who is dealing with Japanese investors needs to be ready to dedicate his time to them and make sure not to cut corners. The Japanese will prefer to take one step at a time and ensure that all the risks have been addressed before making a decision."