At the beginning of each new year, more than 250,000 tech enthusiasts, brands and members of the media fly to Las Vegas for the annual mega tech conference CES.
The show has grown from a trade show featuring hardware to one spanning a dizzying number of verticals, many of which are consumer focused. Hardware such as IoT, drones and smartphones are represented, but verticals such as digital health, mobility and (streaming) media have taken center stage in the last few years.
Many of the innovations presented at the show look to move the needle on improving our future, such as smart cities tech, resilience tech and transportation tech.
Israeli companies regularly attend other international tech conferences such as SXSW, Web Summit and Mobile World Congress, but CES sets the tone for the year’s global technology trends.
Israeli tech has woven itself into the fabric of the world’s largest tech conference; from CES CEO Gary Shapiro’s mention of Waze at the CES Unveiled event in New York to the presence of some of Israel’s most successful companies such as AppsFlyer, Mobileye and OrCam.
If there was one Israeli tech vertical overwhelmingly represented at CES 2020, it was mobility.
Israel has become a known leader in mobility, and CES in recent years has become akin to a car show with all the major car manufacturers showcasing their latest concepts.
This year, close to 70 Israeli mobility-related companies were represented at the show. A dedicated side event, EcoMotion, a joint venture of the Israeli government, featured Israeli mobility startups at the show and further raised the Startup Nation’s profile in this space.
Trends in mobility such as driverless cars have been featured in years past, but this year emerging trends focused on areas such as micro-mobility.
Boaz Mamo, an ecosystem influencer in Israeli mobility and founder of a US-based company, helped bring the mobility community together around the show. His company, Navmatic, offers a positioning product with better location identification than traditional GPS for smartphones, shared micro-mobility (for example, scooters) and autonomous robots.
‘Breathtaking’ Israeli mobility innovation
Alongside entrepreneurs, active investors in mobility played a role at the conference.
Mike Granoff, managing director of Maniv Mobility, states regarding his experience at CES, “Over the last five years two unexpected trends have emerged. First, Israel has become a global powerhouse in automotive and mobility technology, building on the success of such standouts as Waze and Mobileye, with hundreds of startups working on everything from advanced radar, to monetization of vehicle data, to automotive cybersecurity, to fleet optimization and more.”
The second trend, Maniv continues, is that CES “has essentially become an auto show — vividly illustrating the convergence of the 120-year-old business of building cars and the digital technologies that have transformed life over the last two decades.
“As a result of the digitization of transportation, and as a result of the domain experience Israel built up in digitizing information and communication previously, there is a breathtaking spectrum of Israeli mobility innovation on display at CES.”
CES was such an important conference in the mobility space that investors traveled from Israel to support their portfolio companies’ success.
“There is no denying that CES is a touchstone conference for mobility startups and the wide-ranging list of OEMs, Tier 1s, diverse corporate partners and customers that seems to grow broader by the day with no slowdown of incredible, forward-thinking applications in sight,” says Eli Romanoff, founder and general partner of Disruptive Ventures, a New York and Israel-based early-stage tech investment syndicate focused on deep-tech.
“As an investor in Israeli and US mobility ventures, I was excited to see the impressive array of Israeli companies that are pioneering pathways to the future of mobility. Israel’s contribution in this space is well-known and providing for much opportunity from both the investment and strategic partnership angles.”
Mobility cross vertical
Notable Israeli startups covering all aspects of mobility such as cybersecurity, software, and computer vision were featured at CES.
Upstream Security, the first cloud-based centralized cybersecurity and analytics platform to protect the applications of connected and autonomous vehicles, is an example of next-generation mobility tech. This startup has raised money from the venture arms of many notable car manufacturers such as Renault, Hyundai and Volvo.
Christian Nokse, managing director and head of Alliance Ventures (Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi), reflects on his decision to invest in Israeli startups such as Upstream Security: “Israel is on the top of our mind when it comes to innovation in the automotive and mobility sector. By now the world knows about the high density of technical talent in Israel, driven by the military and universities, and most OEMs and Tier1s built innovation labs in Israel to access this deep ecosystem, including our own Alliance Lab in Herzliya.
“Especially technologies around the connected car are in our focus right now in Israel. This also drove our investment thesis for Upstream Security, as it offers world-class cybersecurity expertise for automotive applications in the cloud.”
Aurora Labs is pioneering a “self-healing software” for connected cars that detects and looks to fix any problems a vehicle encounters in real time, much like the human body’s self-healing mechanisms for injuries and illness.
Also of notable mention is Arbe, a startup looking to help vehicles get a sense of their driving environment. The startup does this by utilizing a radar chipset to track what’s around a vehicle in real time and in any condition.
Arbe and many of the other Israeli mobility startups featured at CES have received investment from or have large automotive manufacturers as customers.
Mobility and smart cities
CES showcased how technologies are connecting cross verticals, and the same goes with mobility.
Mobility and transportation are key elements of the future of smart cities, and these are areas for which Israelis startups at the show are creating solutions.
An example is NoTraffic, which has developed an AI-powered platform to optimize traffic lights. NoTraffic connects drivers to a city’s grid in order to solve traffic challenges. Solutions such as these not only help save lives; they help improve traffic policy and create a more seamless experience for drivers.
Mobi (Mobility Insight) creates solutions for managing transportation networks, facilitating connections between vehicles as well as city infrastructure. Mobi uses AI and IoT connected-vehicle devices to predict where traffic congestion will happen. This could help alleviate a major problem in cities across the globe.
Driving the Startup Nation
Summing up his experience at the conference, Oliver Mitchell, a venture partner at New York-based ffVC and speaker at CES, stated: “CES is a critical gauge of the coming tech trends. This year’s most exciting standouts were startups leveraging artificial intelligence as a societal game changer.
“Israel, like its placement in the startup pavilion, is at the epicenter of the impending autonomous robolution. This is best illustrated by the country’s top startup exhibitors, including Karamba Security, No Traffic, FireDome and Neteera.”
Big names in the Israeli tech space were also among featured speakers at CES.
Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua’s annual address is always a highlight of the conference. He did not disappoint this year, unveiling an autonomous vehicle using only cameras to navigate the streets of Jerusalem.
Networking plays a major role at conferences such as CES, particularly for Israeli founders looking to meet corporate customers and investors.
Maniv Mobility and New York investment bank Jefferies hosted a major networking reception focused on mobility. Attendees spilled out to the hotel lobby, where Israeli founders mingled with investors, corporates and potential customers.
When hopping between receptions and parties at the conference, Uber was the transportation of choice. While Uber isn’t Israeli, its service has been made all the better by its integration with Israeli mobility startup Moovit.
Jonathan “Yoni” Frenkel heads a digital marketing agency, YKC Media, that focuses on engaging millennial and tech professionals through content. He’s been involved in the New York-Israeli tech community for many years and previously held roles as a non-profit professional at both the IAC Dor Chadash and AIPAC.