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  • Writer's pictureSamurai Incubate Israel

Automotive x Israel

Updated: Sep 22, 2019

In order to help the ecosystem in Japan learn more about Israel and further collaborate with it in the future, we took it upon ourselves to host a bi-monthly “Israel Seminar” in our HQ in Japan. Once every 2 months we invite the ecosystem community in Tokyo to learn more about a selected field of interest! During the event we share some research findings as well as discuss the field and its development together with key players of the ecosystem.

We’ve decided to share some of our findings and further information about the event and speakers in our blog as we believe both ecosystems (Israel and Japan) will find it useful!


The event had over 50 participants from all over the Japanese ecosystem, who are looking to learn further about Israeli technology in the field of Mobility.

The Speakers

Left to right: Steve Seiji Kato, Takeshi Yamamoto, Koichi Naruse

Steve Seiji Kato | Founder & CEO @ Isratech

Isratech Co., Ltd. supports the business with Israel, which is called “Silicon Valley in the Middle East”. Kato-san first visited Israel in 2006, and has established Isratech in 2009 – he’s been studying the ecosystem and contributing to the Japan-Israel connections ever since.

The Isratech branch in Israel was established in 2012.

Takeshi Yamamoto | Marketing & Business Development @ Autotalk’s JP branch

Autotalks is a smart car company that specializes in vehicle to vehicle communications in autonomous driving. Autotalks’ advanced technology, to be mass deployed in the coming years, complements the information coming from other sensors, specifically in non-line-of-sight scenarios, rough weather or poor lighting conditions. It significantly improves overall road safety, effectively coordinating vehicles, self-driving cars, motorcyclists and pedestrians.

Koichi Naruse | Head of Enterprise Group @ Samurai Incubate Inc

Our very own Naruse-san, in charge of the Enterprise group at our Tokyo HQ! In parallel to an entire Enterprise Activity Arm in Japan, Naruse-san and the team are working hard on helping the Israeli branch connect with potential clients for activities in Israel.

With the support of the team in Japan, we were able to establish our Ready > Set > Innovate! Platform: a platform of tailor-made, customizable Innovation Activities we've created in order to help big corporates join forces with Israeli startups.


Automotive & Israel

Although there isn’t a single Israeli car brand, Israel has become the leader in advancing the automotive industry, largely through its innovations in connected vehicle technologies. There are currently over 400 active startups within the Israeli startup ecosystem that focus on automotive, connected cars, smart-mobility and transportation, including over 200 that have been founded within the last 5 years. In 2017, Israeli startups in this market segment raised $814M.

Israel’s first forays into automotive weren’t smooth: Autocars was an Israeli car manufacturer founded in the 1950s and ended production in 1980 after its mediocre tenure. Better Place planned to be the first nationwide charging network for electric vehicles. It too went bankrupt in 2013 after failing to make it work.

Early innovations from newer Israeli startups focused developments on sensors, radar and LiDAR and have now expanded into all areas covered in the field. Israel has turned into a behemoth in auto-tech and connected cars, with notable companies such as Waze, Mobileye, Moovit, Nexar and others leading the way in the field.

Japan & Israeli Automotive Technology

Toyota | In 2019, Toyota partnered with Israeli startup, Cortica AI to take on Mobileye for leadership in the ADAS/AV market.

NTT Docomo | In 2018, NTT Docomo Ventures invests $3M in Otonomo to collect personal car data to better understand driving habits and monetize it by selling data to insurance providers.

Mitsui & Co. | In 2017, they invested and partnered with Autotalks to develop V2X chipsets to improve safety and connectivity to sensors and other connected car technology integrations. They have since opened branch offices in Japan and Korea.

Nissan | Nissan partnered with Pointer Telocation in 2018 to supply hardware to integrate for vehicle location and roadside service in NissanConnect.

Honda | In 2016, they partnered with OurCrowd, an Israeli VC, to source Israeli technology for connected cars to improve road safety. They have an Israeli team sourcing startups for their HondaXcelerator program.

Automotive & Samurai Incubate Israel

Samurai is no stranger to the Automotive world; over the past 2 years we’ve held 3 different activities with some of the most successful Japanese automotive companies in the world.

With the help of Samurai, the visiting representatives had the opportunity of meeting promising Israeli startups with relevant technologies and looking into potential collaborations.

We’re always looking to meet startups who might be relevant to our Japanese clients*. Hit us up for an introduction!

What will be the next opportunity for an innovation activity? Let us know if you’re a corporate looking to work with Israeli startups!

* Japanese Corporates looking to work with Israeli Startup companies


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