The GoForIsrael conference, an annual meet-greet-and-pitch event with several sessions by high-profile investors and entrepreneurs from around the world, is taking a break from its usual Tel Aviv locale to drop in on Shanghai and Wuhan out in China.
Attendees will include over 100 Israeli startups and 1,800 local investors according to Cukierman & Co. Investment House and their Catalyst Funds program, who are organizing the event. Major Chinese conglomerates like Alibaba, Baidu, Fosun, Lenovo and Tencent will all be on hand with Israeli tech pillars like Mobileye, XJet, Tufin Zerto, WeWork, Emefcy and ReWalk Robotics also represented. This will be the 16th iteration of the event and the first time it has ever been held outside of Israel.
The last year has seen an explosion of events and funds trying to tie the Chinese investment landscape to the Startup Nation. That includes the closing of the joint $200 million Israeli-Chinese investment fund Catalyst CEL. The Pando Group invested $2 million to found fintech hub The Floor in Tel Aviv with a goal to bring some of their solutions to China and some of China’s investors to them.
While the will for increased cooperation appears to strong, with both sides seeing a lot to gain, some have suggested that there is a little more culture clash than usual when right-down-to-business Israelis met very formal Chinese venturers.
“There is very strong interest in Israel. The last year is bringing fruits, people are beginning to understand each other and that there is a well of technology,” Dr. Laurent Choppe, managing partner at Cukierman & Co., told Geektime. “Chinese investors see Israeli life science companies’ technology as good as in the US, but they perceive them as better value for money.”
The Lausanne, Switzerland-based Choppe is a doctor of veterinary medicine at the University Paris XII and has earned an MBA from INSEAD. He’s led Cukierman’s life sciences division since 2008. Before that, he had stints at Schering-Plough (today Merck) and Bellus Health.
“The goal of this conference is to leverage the opportunity of a unique encounter with hundreds of Chinese investors, in a very focused and direct way,” Edouard Cukierman, Chairman of Cukierman Investment House and Managing Partner of Catalyst CEL, said in a press release. “Israeli technology companies will benefit from pre-organized meetings with potential investors, and from the opportunity to present their technologies on stage. We expect to have continuous 1:1 meetings between investors and entrepreneurs during the conference.”
Other partners include China-Israel Changzhou Innovation Park (CIP) and Jiangsu province’s Wujin Economic Zone (WEZ). CIP already hosts several Israeli companies like Lycored, Growponics and Tuttnauer.
A thousand investors are expected for the Shanghai half on September 20 and 800 for the two day leg in Wuhan on 21-22. Shanghai-based investment house Yafo Capital is also sponsoring the confab. The event will include quick elevator pitches to select groups of investors representing interests in different industries.