Graeme Philipson
August 9, 2016

Aus-Israel chamber gets a new CEO

Trade

Aus-Israel chamber gets a new CEO

Charles Nightingale: Has overseen the drive by the AICC into new industries of activity

The Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC) in NSW will have a new CEO from next month. Michelle Blum, currently General Manager for National Operations at the Australian Institute of Management will replace Charles Nightingale from early September.

Mr Nightingale will assume the new position of Chief Customer Officer, a role that will allow him great flexibility to meet specific family needs. The new role will enable closer relationships with the Chamber’s existing members and sponsors.

“We’ve established some very good relationships with our members, and we are very strong in some areas like technology and finance. In my new role I will be able to strengthen our relationships in other areas like health, and on the ecosystems surrounding the industries we operate in.”

The AICC is one of Australia’s best known and most successful chambers of commerce, well known beyond its primary activity of promoting commerce and information exchange between the two countries. It has a complementary organisation in Israel, the Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce.

In recent years the Chamber has become well-known for promoting cooperation between startups and tech entrepreneurs in Australia and Israel.

Its most high profile activity in the area was a trade mission to Israel late last year, when then Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy and robotics entrepreneur Marita Cheng led a delegation of 44 Australian entrepreneurs and industry and Government representatives to Israel.

The mission was held in conjunction with the launch of the Australian government’s innovation agenda. (Wyatt Roy lost his seat in the recent federal election).

“It was a great success,” says Mr Nightingale. “Wyatt Roy was particularly involved. He really helped getting the startup communities in the two countries closer to each other. It’s all about networking and thought leadership. We’re also doing a lot in cyber security and fintech.”

The AICC has recently hosted a number of senior Israeli tech figures to Australia., including chief scientist Avi Hasson and Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, head of security studies at Tel Aviv University and chairman of the Israel Space Agency (both reported by InnovationAus.com).

Israel, with a population of barely 8 million, is known for its innovation and the vibrancy of its startup and venture capital communities.

It has more startups per capita than any country in the world, and last year had the second highest amount of VC activity of any country, after only the US.

A report from Geektime counted 1400 new startups in Israel in 2015, and VC capital raisings of US$3.58 billion. It has many world-ranked science research institutions.

The November event was the second Australian innovation trade mission to Israel in 2015 – the first, in May, was headed by CSIRO and AMP chairman Simon McKeon. Mr Nightingale says that the two missions have done a lot to help the innovation agenda in Australia.

“We are really starting to see a lot of cooperation between organisations in the two countries,” he told InnovationAus.com. “Muru-D co-founder Annie Parker went to Israel a couple of years ago, and has established a strong relationship with The Junction, one of Israel’s major tech accelerators.”

Muru-D is the Telstra-sponsored incubator based in Sydney.

“The Australian government has also announced that one of the landing pads it is establishing as part of its Innovation Agenda will be in Israel, at the SOSA shared workspace in Tel Aviv.”

SOSA (South of Salame) occupies four stories of a vintage industrial building in South Tel Aviv. It describes itself as the “town centre for the innovation industry,” housing startups and angel and VC investors. The other landing pads will be in Berlin, San Francisco, Shanghai and Singapore.

The AICC holds many lunches and other events all around Australia. It has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, with its state branches all holding their own functions. Its membership in Australia is now over 1000 companies including 15 of the top 25 companies in the country.

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