While Israeli entrepreneurs are seeking business opportunities in the US, China, Europe, and now also in UAE, a new and interesting country emerges in the world of high-tech and startup, Israel’s large neighbor, Turkey.
Lisya Bahar Manoach, Managing Partner at Israeli Private Equity Catalyst Funds, who immigrated to Israel from Turkey a decade ago and has thorough acquaintance of both ecosystems, was a speaker and moderator of a first-ever online conference: ‘Uniting hi-tech from two nations – Turkey and Israel’.
The event was initiated and organized by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the embassy in Ankara, led by Roey Gilad, Lisya Bahar Manoach from Catalyst Fund, and the Technology Development Foundation of Turkey (TTGV).
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The dozens of participants, including Turkish entrepreneurs and investors, heard Lisya’s overview of the Israeli ecosystem and opportunities to collaborate. Cem Leon Menase, a well-established figure in Turkey’s tech scene / a leading Turkish social entrepreneur who also created and leads “Disruption for Good” projects, presented the evolving high-tech scene in his country. Turkey recently recorded the first exit of a local Unicorn, the gaming company Peak Games, acquired in the middle of COVID-19 for $1.8 billion.
The curious glances at the beginning of the zoom event rapidly changed to an exciting conversation about the things that both peoples and cultures share in common, and the business potential between the two countries.
“The trade between Turkey and Israel reached US$ 7.2 billion in 2019, though mainly comprised of low-tech. If we brought a new dimension to this trade – the high-tech sector – this number may even reach US$10 billion annual mutual trade, said Roey Gilad, Charge D’Affaires of the Embassy of Israel in Turkey. Gilad stressed the commitment of the Israeli embassy, as well as his own, to the vision of building a bridge between the Turkish and the Israeli high-tech communities.
Dr. A Mete Cakmakci, General Secretary of TTGV said: “Let’s leave politics to politicians and history to historians while focusing on the language we all share – the Language of Value.
Based on her deep connection to the ecosystems in both countries, Lisya highlighted the immense advantages each party could enjoy in developing the relationship and business opportunities in the high-tech industry.
“Israel can benefit from Turkey’s strategic location uniting between Europe and Asia, its business environment and youthful population which drives an entrepreneurial spirit, while Turkey has a lot to gain from Israeli technology and innovation. If we put aside politics and encourage collaboration, it is likely to have immense economic benefits for both sides”, she said.
In a business trip Lisya held in Turkey jointly with Edouard Cukierman, Managing Partner at Catalyst Funds, the two have met many of the country’s high-tech community members and were impressed by the potential. “We are good at building relationships and creating opportunities with business communities in different countries”, says Lisya. “Just like we did in China, where Catalyst was the first Israeli entity to establish an Israeli-Chinese Fund, I believe we can do in Turkey.”
The virtual event hosted two high-tech entrepreneurs – from Israel and Turkey, representing the autonomous vehicle and the energy sectors respectively:
Kobi Marenko, Founder & CEO of Israeli startup Arbe Robotics, a portfolio company of Catalyst Fund, which develops a high-resolution 4D imaging radar for autonomous vehicles; and Sahin Caglayan, Co-Founder and CEO of Reengen, that develops a data analytics solution for the energy sector, one of Turkey’s prominent industries which could benefit from Israeli technology. “Energy has recently been a source of conflict in our region, unfortunately. Maybe today we could view energy as a source of friendship and partnership, not just confrontation”, said Roey Gilad, Charge D’Affaires of the Embassy of Israel in Turkey.