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China-Israel high-tech investments get kicked up a notch

Even as business between China and Israel steadily grows each year, a “trust crisis” could adversely impact the trade between the countries, says Edwards You Lyu, founder and CEO of Vadi Ventures. The new Chinese-owned company in Tel Aviv screens visiting business people from China to identify those with the most serious investment intentions, and helps those visitors overcome language and cultural barriers, local bureaucracy and legal issues.

Earlier this week, Vadi sponsored its first China-Israel Hi-tech Investments Forum aimed at reaching “a new breed” of Chinese investors: small to medium companies that have not visited Israel but are searching for strategic investments that would infuse innovation in their particular industry, says Lyu, who earned an international MBA at Tel Aviv University.

Vadi Ventures CEO Edwards You Lyu with Raz Gal of Nano Textiles, Ori Aphek of Dronomy and Eli Assoolin of NewSight Imaging. Photo by Charisma Pixel.

“Dozens, even hundreds, of Chinese investors – entrepreneurs and government officials alike – visit Israel every week,” he said. “For most of them, this is the beginning and the end of the connection with Israeli entrepreneurs. Many startup companies grow tired of hanging their hopes on potential Chinese investors who visit their headquarters, take photos, ask questions and leave with no definite agreement.”

More than 100 Chinese investors and entrepreneurs came to the forum seeking opportunities in mobile Internet, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, medical devices, digital health and clean-tech. Industry and academic superstars including high-tech “godfather” Yossi Vardi and Nobel Laureate Prof. Robert Aumann were among the speakers.

Among about 20 Israeli startups chosen to present at the forum were:

• WakingApp, whose ENTiTi platform enables anyone to create interactive virtual and augmented reality content without developer skills.
• Freshub, which is developing “smart kitchen” IoT-enabled grocery shopping with a wave of the hand or voice commands.
• Sizer fashion-tech startup allowing for more accurate sizing via smartphone imaging.
• Dronomy self-flying drones powered by advanced sense-and-avoid technology, for monitoring construction projects.
• Betalin Therapeutics, which aims to replace diabetic insulin therapy with an engineered micro-pancreas.
• NewCO2Fuels, whose technology turns factory waste into clean alternative fuels.
• Onysus, a patent-pending software for easily creating immersive experiences using augmented reality, virtual reality and gesture recognition.
• Leviathan Energy Group, maker of renewable energy innovations including the Wind Tulip.
• sPARK Parking Technologies, maker of the Polly Parking Fairy app.
• Hip-Hope Technologies, developer of a smart wearable device that detects a fall and deploys an airbag to protect the wearer from breaking a hip.
• Medivizor, which organizes and personalizes health-related information.
• O2Waterator, which is developing an aerator system for fish farms that’s operated by water pressure rather than electricity.

China hosts 136 Israeli companies and 157 offices of Israel-based companies, according to the IVC Research Center. Chinese companies that have invested in Israel include giants such as Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba.

Abigail Klein Leichman