Ten aspiring Israeli tech and medical startups made an extraordinary pitch in Tel Aviv recently. Extraordinary because their audience was 3,000 km away: 50 prospective Chinese investors in Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing who hooked up online to assess the startups' virtual pitches in English.
A translator helped both sides make sense of the video conference, part of the TechCode Israel China Innovation Center's broad plan to connect startups in the Middle Eastern country with cash-rich Chinese investment firms on the prowl for cutting-edge technologies.
"We plan to hold such events twice a month. Eventually, we hope it'll be once a week," said Holo Zheng, general manager of TechCode Israel.
It is one of the first Chinese incubators in Israel. It opened in March to serve firms at different stages of growth. As part of its services, it offers startups office space, business mentors, financial support and guidance on brand promotion.
"Chinese and Israeli economies are highly complementary. The bilateral ties are also getting increasingly closer, which offers a perfect timing to set up a presence here," Zheng said.
TechCode Israel hosts dozens of startups engaged in the fields of robotics, big data, cyber security and medical care. By the year-end, the aerospace industry will be also covered.
According to her, Israeli entrepreneurs are open to Chinese investments and eager to broaden their ken about China, even mastering nuances like the apt way to exchange business cards and picking a suitable Chinese name for the company.
But it is not easy for TechCode to stand out, given the big number of Israeli incubators The key lies in how to help startups enter into China market, she said.
"Israeli entrepreneurs tend to sell their startups before their technologies are fully commercialized, partly because the domestic market is too small. We are working hard to solve this problem," Zheng said.
TechCode has established an incubator for early-stage startups and two accelerators for growth-stage firms. It guides startup founders on how to pitch to Chinese investors. Mature firms receive advisory services on topics like going public in China.
TechCode's partners include China Fortune Land Development Co and other investment firms backed by provincial and municipal governments of China. In Israel, it partners with legal firms, universities' technology transfer firms and IBI, a major investment firm.
TechCode Israel, part of a global network of innovation centers in the United States, Europe, and Asia, helps budding businesses to take advantage of each country's unique characteristics and enjoy the flows of talent and capital.