The Israeli city of Tel Aviv has emerged as a global startup technology hub in recent years, and has proven attractive for investors like Adam Finkel, a partner at Bloomfield Hills-based Orfin Ventures, a family office with several tech startup investments, and many in Israeli companies.
Among those investments was Otonomo, an Israeli company that collects data for connected vehicles and went public earlier this year at a valuation of $1.4 billion, according to a report in TechCrunch. The deal to take Otonomo public was done via a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, in which investors bet on a shell company to merge with an existing firm and take that company public.
Finkel, a Crain’s 2018 40 under 40 honoree, told Crain’s that he expects more companies from Israel to look to metro Detroit for their U.S. operations.
“Detroit is an excellent market for an Israeli company to be based, in order to go after the automotive manufacturing and (financial technology) opportunities on the ground here,” Finkel said. “There’s no better market within the automotive space to be based.”
Israel stands as Michigan’s 22nd largest export market as of 2020, with $223 million in Michigan goods heading to the country, according to U.S. Census data. The state imported about $265.8 million of Israeli goods in 2019.
As the pandemic hopefully winds down, Romeo with Guardknox said he expects to see more connections between Israeli and Michigan businesses, particularly within the connected and autonomous vehicle space and with Europe implementing new regulations.
“Things are starting to heat up,” said Romeo, adding that many Israeli cybersecurity companies are in a position to help American manufacturers get up to speed with regulations, leading to more connection between the two regions. “I see it only as increasing, to be honest with you.”