Renault, Nissan open innovation lab in Tel Aviv

Renault and Nissan, part of one of the world’s leading automotive alliances, on Monday inaugurated an open innovation lab in Tel Aviv that will work together with Israeli startups to test their technologies in a bid to tap into the next big thing of automotive industry.

The lab was set up in partnership with the Israel Innovation Authority, which sets out the government’s policies for the tech industry.

The Alliance Innovation Lab Tel Aviv, in the Atidim industrial park, will focus on collaborating with startups focused on sensors for autonomous driving, cybersecurity, and big data, as well as any startup that believes it has a game-changing technology for the industry, the Alliance chiefs said on Monday. Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi have set up one of the leading automotive alliances in the world. The Israeli lab will be operated and run solely by Renault and Nissan, however.

The automotive industry is undergoing “big disruption” with regard to electronics advances, the use of artificial intelligence, and the internet, said Gaspar Gascon Abellan, deputy executive vice president of the Alliance, at a press conference at the sidelines of the event. Israel is seeing many startups operating in these areas, he said, spurring Alliance to set up the open innovation lab, its third globally, in Israel.

“You cannot predict what is going to come up, but probably very brilliant and good things” from the intersection of all of these technologies,” Gascon Abellan said.

“It is important” for the alliance “to be in Israel. You have to keep awake because things are going much faster, and if you ignore some fundamental change, some fundamental idea, you can really pass by the future of the business. It is key to be where things are happening.”

The Alliance also set up open innovation labs in Silicon Valley and in Shanghai, China.

“Tech can create a lot of innovation and opportunities,” said Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, Alliance executive vice president of engineering at the event. “But no single company can do everything by themselves, and that is why we are here today.”

Israel has in recent years become a center for automotive innovation — even if it has no car manufacturing activities to speak of.

Its foray into the field started with the electric car company Better Place, which in spite of its high-profile bankruptcy in May 2013 is credited with putting Israel’s automotive tech scene on the map. Google bought the Ra’anana-based mapping company Waze for a reported $1 billion in 2013. And in 2017, Intel acquired the self-driving car technology powerhouse Mobileye, located in Jerusalem, for a whopping $15.3 billion. BMW, Ford, General, Honda, Motors, Uber, Volkswagen and Volvo have been investing in Israeli technology since 2016.

The Alliance, which employs six people in Tel Aviv and may expand its local team, did not disclose how much it has invested in setting up the 1,600 square meter (17,280 sq feet) facility, which can host some 10 cars inside the building to test technologies with real vehicles, and has spaces for startups to work in.

Read the full article on Times of Israel here.

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