Israel venture capital firm JVP in talks for potential UAE innovation hub

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Israeli venture capital firm Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) is in talks with potential partners in the United Arab Emirates to set up an innovation hub there, its chairman said on Monday.

JVP Chairman Erel Margalit has met with potential partners and looked at least one possible site for a hub during a visit to the UAE this week.

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"We can do it soon, but we need to see that the interest is real and that we are embarking on something big together," he told Reuters at a Dubai hotel.

"It needs to be something big because, as an investor, you always want to be in a place where the most innovative things in the world are being done," he said, suggesting a public-private partnership could benefit such a center.

The Gulf Arab state has a nascent tech start-up scene largely driven by the government, while Israel, known as the “startup nation,” has a thriving private sector.

The UAE and Israel announced in August they would establish formal ties. They signed the agreement a month later, breaking with decades of Arab policy towards Israel. Bahrain and Sudan have since announced similar agreements with Israel.

JVP opened a cybersecurity center in New York City earlier this year after being chosen by the mayor’s office.

It has its main center in Jerusalem, where it is headquartered, and also has a cyber lab in southern Israel and a food tech hub in northern Israel.

Dubai opened an innovation center in 2016, while Abu Dhabi set up a tech hub last year.

JVP has received "all kinds of offers" for a potential hub in the UAE, Margalit said.

He did not identify who JVP has held talks with, but said a hub could focus on artificial intelligence, healthcare or food tech.

"It is very clear people are interested in working with us out in the open," Margalit said.

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