Israel and India Launch Technology Fund, Sign 7 Agreements on Space, Water and Agriculture

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, shakes hands with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference in Jerusalem on July 5, 2017. Photographer: Thomas Coex/AFP via Getty Images

Israel and India launched a technology fund Wednesday aimed at growing the countries’ business relationship, and signed seven accords boosting cooperation in areas ranging from space research to water and agriculture.

The Israel India Innovation Initiative Fund, or I4F, was announced during an unprecedented visit to Israel by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is looking for military and other technologies as he seeks to move his country aggressively into the digital age. Israel, whose export-focused economy relies heavily on technology, is eager to penetrate India’s market of 1.3 billion citizens.

The two governments on Wednesday announced a strategic partnership for water that focuses on conservation, agricultural use of treated wastewater, and on cleaning the Ganges and other Indian rivers. The sides stressed the importance of defense collaboration and said future deals should include the transfer of Israeli technology, in line with Modi’s “Make in India” initiative. Three separate memorandums of understanding were signed for space research.

“This is a great day,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a working lunch in Jerusalem, according to comments relayed by his office. “I have a feeling that today India and Israel are changing our world.”

Netanyahu accepted Modi’s invitation to make a reciprocal visit to India, his office said.

Infinite Market
The announcements follow a flurry of recent tie-ups. Indian Angel Network, the country’s largest angel investor group, said last week it was starting operations in Israel, and India’s biggest marketplace for startup funding, LetsVenture, agreed last week to work with Israeli equity crowdfunding platform OurCrowd. Wipro Ltd. entered a partnership with Tel Aviv University to research emerging technologies, and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. on Wednesday announced one joint venture with Wipro Infrastructure Engineering and expanded another with the Kalyani Group.

Trade between the countries has grown from about $200 million in 1992, when they established diplomatic ties, to nearly $4.2 billion last year, according to figures from Israel’s Economy Ministry. Still, if defense items and diamonds are excluded, Israeli exports to India have fallen in recent years.

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SOURCE: Bloomberg, Gwen Ackerman and Saritha Rai