In the search for the next big thing in aerospace, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) is founding a new international innovation center in Tel Aviv in cooperation with international aerospace startup accelerator Starburst.
The new center is scheduled to open in the coming months, and IAI is considering a number of possible locations in Tel Aviv for its operations. 30 employees will work at the center in the initial stage.
The founding of the center is being led by IAI VP technology and R&D Dr. Amira Sharon. She told "Globes," "The innovation center's activity will focus on absorbing technological talents and ideas that will be used in the coming years to develop and update the company's basket of products in order to preserve its competitive advantage in the Israeli and global markets."
Starburst supports 300 startups from all over the world and 26 leading companies whose activity involves the defense industry, including Airbus, Thales Group, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, and others. Sharon says that IAI will select the technologies that will enter the innovation center and be adapted to the needs of the company and its customers in Israel and around the world, and which will be integrated in its R&D programs in the coming years. She declined to state the amount that IAI would invest in the innovation center, saying that this investment would be part of the company's R&D budget.
Sharon added that the future technologies in which IAI was interested involved outer space and aerospace, especially in view of the dramatic changes looming in the global defense industry. "The defense market faces a revolution, and within a few years will appear completely different from the way it looks today and the existing technologies," she said, adding, "Our customers will need other things, and we, as a company, must take this matter a step further in order to bring the future technologies to the operational environment. Through cooperation with Starburst, we will combine local and international technologies to bring about the next big thing."
IAI says that the decision to open the innovation center in Tel Aviv was taken because the city is an active and globally recognized business center that attracts entrepreneurs seeking to germinate ideas and plans. "The center will operate on the basis of the enormous know-how accumulated by IAI over the years, with involvement from external forces. Thanks to the involvement of startup accelerator in the enterprise, we will focus on entrepreneurship and ideas for the market's future needs, so that they will be adapted later in our line of products," Sharon explained.
IAI regards the founding of the innovation center as an integral part of its strategic plan of adapting its activity to a dynamic market, such as the growing demand for autonomous tools for transporting and shipping cargo. "We already have many capabilities in unmanned tools in air, land, and sea. We also have very impressive capabilities in outer space. The innovation center will facilitate making more groundbreaking technologies accessible, and the company will be able to connect more rapidly to these innovations," Sharon stated.
"IAI is our close partner in Europe and also a partner in our accelerator program in Los Angeles," said Starburst founder and CEO Francois Chopard. "Expanding our activity with IAI through the innovation center in Tel Aviv is a golden opportunity for us to enter Israeli expertise in outer space, aviation, and defense."
IAI chairman Harel Locker says that the company's cooperation with the startup accelerator is a continuation of the trend towards expanding cooperation with leading business concerns worldwide and with startups "in order to open IAI's ranks to technological ideas and innovations and retain our technological lead."
IAI's leaders are currently attending the biannual Paris Air Show, at which current aerospace developments are being displayed. In the framework of the Air Show, IAI unveiled the Heron T, its new tactical UAV. IAI subsidiary Elta Systems revealed the new version of the radar that it developed, used among other things in the Iron Dome, David's Sling, and Barak rocket and missile interception systems.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 19, 2019
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