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Tech start-ups to watch in the nation of Israel

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【Summary】​Israel has earned a reputation as “Startup Nation”. There are quite a few startups on automotive field that are worth eyeing on.

Original Claire    Nov 28, 2016 7:10 PM PT
Tech start-ups to watch in the nation of Israel

Israel has earned its newfound reputation as the "Startup Nation." The country, founded in 1948, now has a population of 7.1 million. Israel has witnessed a boom of tech start-ups since 2009. Today, only the U.S. and China have more NASDAQ-listed companies than Israel. The current number of Israeli companies on the NASDAQ is 90. Their total combined worth is $40 billion.

Traditionally, Israel lacks both the required industrial depth and domestic car market needed to rival the incumbent auto industries of the U.S., Europe or Japan. However, its rapid advancements in cyber security, artificial intelligence and machine learning have caught the attention of various investors. There are several startups in the automotive field worth keeping an eye on.

Aquarius

Founded in 2014, and based in Rosh Haayin, Israel, the young start-up has invented a super-efficient combustion engine that will, if given the chance, significantly reduce oil consumption. This new engine can travel 990 miles on only one tank of gasoline. In contrast with the trend of electric vehicles and powerful batteries that most auto companies are delving into, the Israeli start-up focuses on traditional power engines that are compact and price-worthy. The company stressed the engine only costs around $100, and is much more affordable than EVs.

"We already have three generations of engines," Aquarius Co-founder Gal Fridman told CNN. "I can tell you this is very fast, especially for a country that has no ecosystem of engine manufacturing."

Automaker Peugeot is currently evaluating the engine. Fridman mentioned there are other car manufacturers interested in their product as well.

Mobileeye

Listed on NYSE, the Jerusalem-based tech company is developing a vision-based, advanced driver-assisting system to provide warnings for collision prevention. It was founded in 1999, with its core product called the "EyeQ chip," and boasting powerful software algorithms. The product later went to market. It was sold to a wide range of automakers, including BMW, General Motors and Volvo. BMW teamed up with Intel and MobilEye to help it begin producing fully-automated vehicles by 2021. And early this year, Mobileye announced a deal to work with Renault Nissan on digital maps that will help the automaker's move towards driverless cars.

The company also had a partnership with Tesla in 2015. However, after the first deadly crash of a self-driving Model S with an active Autopilot system turned on back in June of 2016, Mobileye issued a statement that its technology won't be able to recognize a crossing trailer (which was the cause of the accident) until 2018. In July 2016, Mobileye announced the end of its partnership with Tesla. Yet with improved technology, MobileEye, acting as Israel's tech veteran, will definitely become major cooperation-target for global automakers.

Softwheel

The Tel Aviv-based start-up originally made wheels featuring a better suspension system for wheelchairs. Its amazing Acrobat wheel enables people sitting in a wheelchair to go downstairs smoothly, without any chance of crashing to the ground. It later applied its technology to bicycles, and now, the company is eyeing automotive wheels.

Earlier this year, it put forward the "Enduro car wheel," which will make flat tires a thing of the past. The product is not filled with air, and has 20% more energy efficiency, better maneuverability, higher safety and is lighter in weight.  

"Instead of the impact -- the energy -- having to travel all the way through the wheel, through the chassis, and then absorbed in the suspension in some way, here it has been absorbed within the wheel itself," says Daniel Barel, CEO of Softwheel.

He added that he has met with various car manufacturers in a quest for new partnerships. The Israeli start-up now has a factory in North Carolina, and will open a new one in the Czech Republic.

 


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