China is still the largest “untapped market for the Israeli business sector with enormous opportunities,” said Gleitman, chairman of the Guangzhou Innovation Office in Tel Aviv, and a former chief scientist in the Ministry of Industry and Trade. “It requires a different way for doing business comparing the traditional markets, a bit different attitude. But China is really open for doing business with Israel.”
Xian Yinsong, executive vice chair of Guangzhou’s Huangpu District, said the Chinese-Israeli cooperation marked an exciting moment in bilateral relations.
“This innovation will strengthen cooperation in biotechnology and other life sciences, such as medicine and the environment,” she said. “The Guangzhou district offers wonderful opportunities for investors from abroad and together we can be world leaders.”
The incubator’s launch ceremony on Monday was attended by high-level Guangzhou officials, entrepreneurs and Israel’s consul general, Nadav Cohen.
“I’m very happy to be here today at the opening ceremony of the new Israeli incubator of the (Guangzhou Sino-Israel Biotech Investment Fund) here at the Biotech Island,” said Cohen. “I’m delighted to see that your dreams are starting to come true. This is a very high and unique level of technological cooperation. I wish this incubator and all the Israeli and Chinese companies good luck and success.”
The establishment of the incubator is another important and unique milestone in broadening economic and scientific collaboration between the city of Guangzhou and Israel, focusing on innovation and hi-tech.
Guangzhou is the third largest city in China and the capital of Guangdong, China’s richest province. It sits on the Pearl River about 120 km northwest of Hong Kong and is one of China’s Five National Central Cities that serve as hubs for other international cities, with the goal of leading China’s efforts to become a global leader in the fields of technology and innovation. The estimated population for the city is more than 20 million.
The incubator will be managed by a team of Israeli and Chinese experts using knowledge and expertise developed in Israel, considered to be a world leader in technology and innovation. The fund’s goal is to invest in and promote the establishment of Chinese subsidiaries of Israeli companies active in the biomedical field.
The Chinese subsidiaries have access to the intellectual property of the Israeli parent company and total freedom of operation in China. Like in Israel, the incubator will provide companies with governmental grants to be repaid only when a company succeeds.
The first two companies accepted into the incubator were a Chinese subsidiary of Israeli company Neurotech Solutions, a provider of ADHD screening and diagnostic test software, and Chinese company Alagen, which develops medication for infant skin tumors. Since January 2017, the fund has established five such companies within Israeli companies.
The Guangzhou Sino-Israel Biotech Investment Fund, a 600 million RMB fund (approximately $100M) is the group responsible for the new incubator, with its lead investor as the Guangzhou Municipal Government.
The fund is managed by four Israeli partners, Chairman Dr. Shuki Gleitman, CEO Avner Lushi, Prof. Avraham Karasik, Prof. Shlomo Noy, and one Chinese partner, Carl Geng.
Over the last few years, the group established a strong presence in Guangzhou and became a noticeable player in the ecosystem while advancing the Israel-Guangzhou cooperation platform and partnering with the Guangzhou government as a strategic partner and investor. Guangzhou International Biotech Island is also a partner in the incubator’s establishment.
Last year, the group was requested to establish and manage a formal economic representative office of the city of Guangzhou in Israel, thus forming the. Guangzhou Innovation Office in Israel. Managed by CEO Liraz Geva, the office is engaged in promoting technology and innovation cooperation between Guangzhou and Israel.
The office focuses on connecting Israeli companies with strategic and financial partners in China. They pull from the group’s wide network of connections within both private and public sectors in Guangzhou.
The group is in the process of establishing an additional fund in partnership with the local government using a similar model. The new fund will focus on more general technology areas such as IT and auto technology.
At the end of the launch ceremony, dozens of guests and Chinese and Israeli journalists were treated to a performance of traditional lion dancing by local actors and musicians.
“The Guangzhou representative office in Israel creates business opportunities and connects Israeli companies to investors and strategic partners in China,” said Geva.
“It also assists companies and other Chinese organizations to establish activities in Israel. It may be challenging for Israeli companies to find the right business channels for them in China but our unique position as the government’s representatives opens many horizons.”
The writer was a guest of the Guangzhou Innovation Office and Hainan Airlines.