Digital Study Trip to Israel: Event Report

GINSUM had the honor to host the 2021 Digital study trip to Israel which was organized by the VKU, in cooperation with the AHK Israel and the Israeli Economic & Trade Mission, Berlin.

The VKU is the German Association of Local Utilities of municipally determined infrastructure undertakings and economic enterprises. These are companies that provide services of general interest in Germany within the framework of local self-government. Members of the VKU do not primarily pursue private commercial objectives but are guided by public welfare obligations. The VKU has about 1,500 member companies which are primarily active in the fields of energy supply, water supply and sewage, waste management, municipal cleaning and telecommunication.
As such, the VKU brings together the interests of the local utilities and influences the processes of policy- and law-making. It formulates ideas on the future of the local utility sector and offers its members a broad range of support services.

The digital study trip was initiated by the VKU in order to introduce its members to the “Startup Nation”, its vibrant high-tech ecosystem and its innovative digital solutions. This was another wonderful opportunity, aligning directly with the goals of GINSUM of fostering new connections and cooperation between Israel and Germany. GINSUM offers networking opportunities through events, workshops, pitching formats and roadshows, providing information and hands-on assistance to gain growth opportunities for both sides.
We believe that close economic cooperation between Israel and Germany offers enormous added value – for both ecosystems. We believe that the Israeli ecosystem with its path breaking technology can offer a wide variety of solutions to Germany’s small and medium enterprises challenges- to help improve and advance existing technology and digitalization processes.
The VKU digital study trip focused on three main sectors: cyber security, greentech and safe and smart city.

The event was kicked off by welcoming remarks by Mr. Ingbert Liebing, the General Manager of the VKU, followed by a general overview by Mr. Carsten Ovens, Executive Director of ELNET-Germany. Mr. Ovens presented the three points of focus of the event, while emphasizing Israel’s strong suits in each one of them, and as such, the potential possibilities of cooperation with Germany.
Ms. Ester Elias, Head of the Economic and Trade Mission to Berlin at the Embassy of Israel in Germany, provided a general overview of the Israeli startup eco system and its deep roots in Israeli society. Also, the Israeli embassy in Berlin has recognized the great existing potential for cooperation among the countries, and Ms. Elias has therefore strengthened the belief that the industries and the economies of the two countries are complimentary.
Following the opening remarks and introductions, the audience had the pleasure of hearing from 4 “best practices” in the chosen fields to give the participating VKU members a limited introduction to the endless options the Israeli tech sector has to offer.
Michael Yehoshua, Vice President of Global Marketing at SCADAfence, introduced his company in the field of “Cybersecurity”.
SCADAfence develops OT and IoT cyber-security solutions. SCADAfence offers a full suite of industrial cyber-security products that provide full coverage of large-scale networks, offering best-in-class network monitoring, asset discovery, governance, remote access, and IoT device security. SCADAfence offers its solutions to a wide variety of industries including: Manufacturing, critical infrastructure, facilities, utilities, oil & gas, logistics, mining, water, chemicals, pharma, auto, food & beverage, etc.

SCADAfence delivers proactive security and visibility to complex OT networks, including the largest manufacturing facility in Europe. SCADAfence enables organizations in critical infrastructure, manufacturing, and building management industries to operate securely, reliably, and efficiently. Furthermore, SCADAfence reduces operational risk by 90% in less than 2 days by remotely installing the platform in various products. SCADAfence was also chosen as Gartner’s “cool vendor” in 2020, describing it as “highest detection rates & lowest false positives”.

Tal Shapira, CEO of TripleW, introduced his company in the field of “Greentech”.
TripleW upcycles food waste into high-value, low cost, bio chemicals in an ecofriendly bio process. It develops a comprehensive anaerobic digestion system for deriving fully biodegradable bioplastic from waste. The TripleW process converts waste into the building blocks of bioplastic production, extracting maximum value from the conversion with minimal impact to the environment. The process enables the company’s clients to efficiently manufacture bioplastics from a variety of municipal and agricultural waste sources. currently, waste managements facilities’ largest challenges are the low product returns, due to incineration, digestion, and landfill (some of them to be banned in Europe shortly).

Furthermore, production of sustainable biochemicals is very expensive. As such, TripleW’s solution manages to profit from the lactic acid production. This is highly relevant since the bioplastics market was worth USD 6.04 billion dollars in 2019 and will exhibit a CAGR or 16.2% during the forecast period of 2020-2027.

Sagi Gurfinkel, Founder & CEO of ACiiST- Smart City Network Ltd., introduced his company in the field of “safe and smart city”.
ACiiST develops networking solutions for smart cities. It converts existing streetlight systems into an urban IoT infrastructure, enabling easy installation of cameras, Wi-Fi, sensors, or other IoT devices and providing a secure, high-performing network without the typical disruption and costs of the alternatives. The company’s MetropoLAN technology is a high-availability, cyber-secure network architecture that requires minimal installation, making it ideal for deployment in large metropolitan areas, with standard network connections at the desired locations. This answers to one of greatest challenges in the field today, which are its high costs and the time consumption it usually takes to install such systems. ACiiST’s solutions can be used in the context of “smart city” (personal safety & surveillance, traffic management & parking, smart light, announcement audio & video, air quality and precise irrigation). Further they can be used for roads and highways (surveillance, hazard detection, announcements, road diagnostics and insurance), and for military/fences purposes (intrusion detection, asset protection, announcements, and maintenance).

Moritz Hegmann, Business Development Manager at Mobileye- an Intel company, introduced his company in the field of “safe and smart city”.
Mobileye’s advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) technology is currently being used in more than 65 million vehicles and is integrated into hundreds of new car models from the world’s major automakers. Mobileye’s initial vision was to reduce vehicle collisions that result in injuries and fatalities. Today, Mobileye makes one of the most advanced collision avoidance systems on the market, while working toward autonomous driving and the coming autonomous mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) revolution in road safety. Since 2004, Mobileye has offered a retrofit version of its technology to fleets across the world, simplifying fleet management by increasing fleet safety, efficiency, and cost savings. Mobileye makes one of the most advanced collision avoidance systems on the market. This technology can be installed in almost any vehicle and offers numerous lifesaving alerts in one system, helping the driver to combat distracted driving and avoid or mitigate collisions. By turning the car into an intelligent moving sensor, Mobileye is moving beyond saving lives on the road to actually improving the quality of life for citizens around the world.

To finalize the event, Mr. Ram Sidis, Deputy CEO at the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel, also expressed his hope for further cooperation and a mutual learning process between Germany and Israel. As the head organization to 257 local authorities in Israel, he emphasized the importance of connectivity to the citizens. There is no doubt that COVID-19 strengthened the already existing shift in that direction. Clearly today, most of the correspondence between citizens and its local governments are held through digital platforms- which are of course available due to cutting edge technology and innovation.

Finally, GINSUM hopes the short presentations of some of Israel’s available technology in the field will lead to the expansion and the strengthening of the already existing ties between Germany and Israel.

About the author

Jill Wyler

Jill Wyler held various professional positions in Israel and was until recently the Israel representative of a Washington based independent academic organization which focused on enhancing knowledge about modern Israel at universities in the United States and around the world.

At ELNET she works for the German Israeli Network of Startups & Mittelstand (GINSUM), as the Program Coordinator at the Israel office. Jill has a master’s degree in International Relations, with a focus on diplomacy and foreign policy, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem