Jerusalem's city walls illuminated with colors of French flag
Jerusalem's city walls illuminated with colors of French flag Perry Mandelbaum

On Thursday, the first INNOVATECH 2017 conference will be held in Paris, to encourage French investments in Israeli innovation and cooperation between the two countries.

The conference was initiated by the Industrial Cooperation and Promotion of Foreign Investment Authority of the Economy and Industry Ministry and the French Connecting Leaders Club.

The conference will focus on the fields of Podtech, Life Sciences, Automotive and Cyber, and will include 250 senior French hi-tech executives, 15 Israeli companies, and venture capital fund managers.

The Israeli chip company Valens, which earlier this month reported that it raised $60 million, will be among the companies exhibiting at the automotive session at the conference. French companies such as Renault, who does research and development in Israel, and AIRBUS, one of the largest airlines in the world, will take part in this session.

France has experienced a significant revival in innovation in recent years and is the leading country in Europe in the rate of growth of venture capital. In addition, France is a significant global investor - France's total foreign investment stood at $35 billion in 2015 and holds 13th place in the world rankings.

However, in the Israeli context full potential has not yet been realized, according to the latest Central Bureau of Statistics data. The balance of investments from France (total investment over the years until 2014) stands at only $519 million, even though the Israeli innovation ecosystem has reached a more mature stage, reflected in the fact that Israel ranks second in innovation in the latest ranking of the World Competitiveness Forum (WEF), while France is ranked 17th, and this conference is aimed at exposing and leveraging the existing potential.

Authority Director Ziva Eiger, who will present the unique eco-system in Israel, welcomed the increasing interest by French companies. "We see a high willingness on the part of the French companies to receive information about Israel's enormous potential in terms of cooperation and investment.

"This conference is the opening shot towards realizing the potential, and the authority is here to accompany the investors from this stage until after the investment is made," she said.