Automakers from around the world have been following one after another to set up R&D centers in Israel. German carmakers especially. In fact this writer has met top-ranking executives from both Daimler and the Volkswagen Group right here in-country. The one notable exception has been BMW, which has invested more in Israeli-run startups abroad than in their homeland. That’s now set to change, however, as the Bavarian manufacturer has announced the opening of a new Technology Office in Tel Aviv.
Set to open sometime later this year, the new BMW Group Technology Office will coordinate the automaker’s collaborations with local startups and universities.
There are currently nine accredited universities spread across the country. The greater Tel Aviv area (or “Gush Dan”) alone has three, including Tel Aviv University, Bar-Ilan University, and the Weizman Institute of Science. Further afield you’ll also find the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Haifa and the Technion (in Haifa), the Open University (in Ra’anana), Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (in Be’er Sheva), and Ariel University (previously known as the College of Judea and Samaria). These in addition to dozens of accredited academic colleges.
“Tel Aviv has one of the fastest growing startup scenes in the world – especially in the important future fields for us such as autonomous driving or connectivity,” said BMW development chief Klaus Fröhlich. “By establishing a presence in Tel Aviv, we will secure even faster access to the relevant trends and technologies, be it with startups or universities.”
BMW’s Tel Aviv office will be its fifth worldwide, joining existing Technology Offices in the United States, China, Japan, and South Korea. The company operates more than twenty R&D facilities in eight countries around the world.
In addition to the BMW automobile and motorcycle divisions and the i (electric) and M (performance) sub-brands, the BMW Group also encompasses British carmakers Rolls-Royce and Mini.
“The mobility and smart transportation sector is one of the fastest growing in the world. The opening of the BMW Group Technology Office in Israel is a vote of confidence in the Israeli innovative companies and ecosystem,” added Israeli economy/industry minister Eli Cohen. “It is yet another proof that in this new era of the automotive industry, with the strong focus on innovative technologies, the state of Israel can and does play a key role.”