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As you probably know from our earlier posts the IVA conference was held last week in Tel Aviv, Israel. Now it’s time for a recap. I had an opportunity to interview Jussi Harvela, Pekka Roine and Kristian Järnefelt from Concilio Networks who all participated in the event. They all agreed that the whole trip was a success.

The Finnish delegation of fifteen people attended the conference (with total of 1700 attendees) itself and the companies also pitched for a selected VC audience just after the conference. Furthermore, all eight companies had private meetings with potential investors and partners. The advice from the experts (check the video) was clearly followed by the companies as the quality of pitches was described as “very good” or “excellent”. The Finnish companies were pretty unknown for Israeli VCs who were anyhow impressed by the absence of “me-too” startups among the pitchers.

Mr. Järnefelt also provided some personal insights on Israeli business as well. He said that Israel resembles Silicon Valley a great deal and many of leading US VCs are also present in Israel. There are quite a lot early stage capital available and a bubbling startup scene as well. One notable thing is the amount of serial entrepreneurs who yet are rare (at least in software business) in Finland. According to Mr. Järnefelt Israeli startups have a strong level of ambition in general and the incubators (that acccept only 3-5% of applicants) encourage such behavior. However, one thing the Israeli ICT segment yet lacks is “a Nokia”, so that gives the Finns something to chat about.

One the trip’s goals was to deepen the co-operation between Finland and Israel. Thus, representatives from Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy, TEKES, Finnvera and Technopolis Ventures got a first-hand look on, for example, the Israeli VC industry and the incubator system. After the Finnish delegation returns we hope the co-operation gradually deepens and gains momentum. The signs seem promising in any case.

There were discussions that an Israeli delegation consisting of VCs and government officials would visit Finland sometime during the Autumn. It would be great if Estonian and Russian startups could attend such an event along with Finnish companies. We will keep you posted if and when we hear more of this kind of plans.

In conclusion, an excellent event and we hope to see a more deeper interaction between Israel and Finland in the future.

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