“Go far. Come close.” The first German-Israeli Pitch Night presented innovative startups from Israel and East Westphalia to an audience of 200 guests. Thanks to the concrete examples discussed, it also showed how both ecosystems can learn from each other.
Organized by the Founders Foundation, the Israel-based Start-up Nation Central and the Bertelsmann Stiftung, the first German-Israeli Pitch Night held last Tuesday brought startups from Israel and East Westphalia together at the Founders Foundation. The startups presented forward-looking technologies for digitalizing industrial production in Industry 4.0 settings. In attendance were roughly 200 representatives of established businesses and startups, and members of the public.
There are now approximately 230 startups in Israel with market-ready Industry 4.0 innovations that want to become active in new markets. The region of East Westphalia (known by its German abbreviation OWL) also has a strong presence in this area. The region is an Industry 4.0 pioneer in Germany, thanks in large part to “it’s OWL,” the excellence cluster supported by the state of North Rhine–Westphalia. Over 50 startups in this field have been launched in the region in recent years, also thanks to the training opportunities and assistance for entrepreneurs provided by the Founders Foundation.
The short pitches presented at the event allowed the audience to learn more about the startups’ innovative technologies – one that provides industrial robots with sensory perception, for example, and one that uses external sensors to evaluate the activity of machines without invasively accessing their data.
In addition to discussing Industry 4.0 topics that are particularly relevant for the future of Germany’s midsized companies, Eliran Elimelech (Start-up Nation Central), Sebastian Borek (Founders Foundation) and Stephan Vopel (Bertelsmann Stiftung) spoke about the potential that could be tapped through a German-Israeli innovation exchange. German founders, for example, could learn from the willingness to make mistakes and build less-than-perfect prototypes, while Israeli founders could take advantage of Germany’s process intelligence and planning capacities. As the speakers noted, not only would the founders benefit from an exchange, so would German-Israeli relations.
For although the relations between the two countries rest on a solid foundation borne by historical experience, their common interest in overcoming the challenges stemming from digitalization, demographic change and globalization is increasing. Cooperation on innovation-related issues has the potential to become a key pillar in future German-Israeli relations.
The lively discussion continued until late at night, a sign that exchanging innovation-related ideas and experience not only provides insight into the latest technologies, it also builds new bridges between people.