Narendra Modi is the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel. This breaks new ground in geopolitics. Historically, India has been sensitive to Arab nations, partly because it is a major oil importer and also because it’s a country with the second largest Muslim population in the world.
But geopolitics aside, the Modi visit also promises to bring these two major tech hubs closer together. Today, India and Israel announced a joint tech fund on the lines of a similar US-Israeli fund. Each country will initially put US$4 million into the fund, but more than the money it creates a conduit between the two tech hubs, which are both connected closely with Silicon Valley.
Israel’s success in building a tech hub is well documented in the bestseller #Startup Nation, and it has become a model for other countries to emulate. It led to a boom in Israeli tech startups targeting the US market, many of which got listed on the Nasdaq.
India, on the other hand, became the leading outsourcing destination for IT services. Migrant Indians also became leading entrepreneurs and tech CEOs in the US. The fast-growing startup ecosystem in India, which has attracted over US$5 billion in investment in the first half of this year, leverages both the tech talent from its IT legacy as well as connections with Silicon Valley.
Now, with the rapprochement between India and Israel, new possibilities emerge in what the Jerusalem Post calls a “hi-tech triangle.”
“There is tremendous potential in the connection between Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, and Bangalore, particularly in the areas of innovation tech and entrepreneurship,” M.R.Rangaswamy, co-founder of Sand Hill Group, one of the first angel investor networks in Silicon Valley, told The Jerusalem Post. He is among 15 Indian-American business leaders in Israel for the Modi visit.
“Maybe we could envision an Israeli investor putting money into a company in India that sells to the US market, through an office in Silicon Valley. Or it could be the opposite – an Indian-American investor who invests in an Israeli company and sells stuff to India,” Rangaswami said.
The first such connections are already happening. Jerusalem-based equity crowdfunding platform OurCrowd and Bangalore-based LetsVenture have announced that they will collaborate in funding Israeli and Indian startups. And the Indian Angel Network has announced that is setting up a base in Tel Aviv to invest in Israeli startups.