In November 2021, President Iván Duque paid a state visit to Israel. During the meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Isaac Herzog, the Colombian president declared that both are sister nations, a fact that is verified by the joint work carried out on different issues, including technology.
It should be noted that the two countries enjoy strong diplomatic ties dating back to 1949, the year since which there have been numerous trade agreements. A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was even signed, which entered into force in 2020 and which is not only limited to trade in goods, but also opens up opportunities in services, investment and public purchases.
“In the last three years, the bilateral relationship has improved exponentially, allowing today a very high level of cooperation in topics such as politics, economy, telecommunications, health, agriculture, defense, culture, innovation and entrepreneurship” , affirms Christian Cantor, Israel’s ambassador to Colombia.
Precisely, Duque’s visit to Israeli lands allowed both nations to agree on exchange commitments in science and technology, fields in which Israel is a world power. In addition to confirming the opening in Jerusalem of an INNpulsa office – the Colombian government’s agency for entrepreneurship and innovation. This will allow work in areas such as health, agriculture, the environment and smart cities.
On the path of smart cities
In recent years, with the cases of cosmopolitan cities such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Rishon Lezion, Israel has shown that it is possible to materialize a concept technological and holistic approach to smart cities to solve different types of problems.
“Before, smart cities were based on efficient management through specific technologies: traffic lights, lighting, among others. The Israeli concept is holistic, as it sees cities as platforms that act in an articulated manner and are constantly updated based on the needs of citizens”, explains Nir Adam Sella, head of the Israeli Economic Mission in Colombia .
Solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI) or Big Data developed in Israel are allowing the world’s cities to establish clear and centralized strategies. Colombia is no exception.
In fact, a few months ago, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure of our country, Ángela María Orozco, met with her counterpart from Israel, Meirav Michaeli, and with industry leaders Israeli automotive and intelligent mobility, to seek technological alternatives to transportation problems.
It is not free to go to Israel in these cases, since world-class technological solutions such as Waze and MobilEye come from that country.<br
This type of approach allows us to glimpse a renewal in different areas. In citizen security and emergency management, for example, a collaboration with Carbyne seems possible, a technology that would allow Line 123 operators to use the location, camera and microphones of the cell phone of the citizen who communicates to obtain more precise information. . In this way, the operator could send the correct and timely human resource to deal with the eventuality.
Within the ecosystem of smart cities in Israel, there are also companies that facilitate ‘carsharing’ (sharing a vehicle for short periods of time); systems based on Big Data and Machine Learning that can help in the efficient management of water and solid waste; and companies that can help police anticipate criminal events. These types of developments could be very important for the consolidation of smart cities in Colombia.
Energy sustainability, another priority
More than half of Israel’s territory is occupied by the Negev desert. Despite this, and the challenging climatic conditions, water is an easily accessible resource for more than nine million people.
This is due to desalination plants, which make seawater drinkable and efficiently treat wastewater and industrial water. These innovations would have great potential in areas with difficult access such as La Guajira, in addition to other regions of Colombia.
It should also be noted that Israel is a world leader in renewable energy and efficient energy management. Precisely, the renowned company Ormat is already working together with entities in Colombia to identify opportunities in the field of geothermal energy. And it is that, with an energy matrix in full diversification, Colombia is emerging as an international investment destination in this field.
Health, another great goal to achieve with technology
Israel is a benchmark when it comes to medicine. In fact, his development of the medical cannabis industry is recognized throughout the world, and countries like Colombia are seeking to follow in his footsteps.
Furthermore, the challenges of health systems, particularly after the pandemic of COVID-19, have stimulated the appearance of disruptive technologies, such as medical equipment and devices that facilitate remote monitoring, diagnosis and hospitalization.
Interesting solutions have appeared in this context, such as those offered by TytoCare, which designed a device to remotely monitor vital signs and perform a complete medical examination remotely.
An experience to highlight in the country is the initiative created by the HUB-iEX of El Bosque University, in alliance with the Embassy of Israel in Colombia, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices, leading clinics in Colombia and the Wayra innovation team.
“Due to the impact of the pandemic in the health sector, it was necessary to find robust solutions as, validated with patients and that can best support these ecosystem challenges. For this, the connection with Israeli startups and companies has been fundamental, since they have proven to be pioneers and leaders in managing the pandemic”, commented Rafael Romero, HUB-iEX coordinator at El Bosque University. .
In fact, at this moment, important Israeli companies are working on the technological strengthening of the ‘HealthTech’ ecosystem together with relevant health actors in Colombia, with a view to identifying great challenges and solutions in axes such as hospitalization home care, remote diagnosis, telemedicine, personalized treatments, prevention, promotion and education.