Three months ago I began a new journey working at i3 Equity Partners as an intern. After studying business and entrepreneurship at the IDC for the past two years, I wanted to have a better grasp on the current state of the Israeli startup ecosystem. Luckily for me, Eran Wagner was a professor of mine at the time and gave me the opportunity to work at i3 Equity Partners.
I3 Equity Partners is a unique early stage VC focused on deep tech that is backed by some of the world’s top MNCs. The investment model is interesting since the due-diligence process includes checking use cases with our partners and investors. i3's portfolio is quite diverse including companies from disciplines in a very broad definition of IOT.
In line with the “deep tech” mission statement, one of my first assignments at i3 Equity Partners was to create a market map of the Israeli robotics industry. The process was quite interesting since robotics isn’t a very predominant field in the Israeli ecosystem. During my time working on the assignment I came to realise the potential Israelis have in contributing to robotics with their creative abilities in software, and deep tech.
In recent years we have a seen a leap in the amount of Israeli startups in the automotive industry as well as drones. Robotics are becoming more tangible than ever to intertwine with the current industry fortes. With that in mind, we are still seeing most companies utilising robotic abilities in industry 4.0, health-tech, agriculture, and consumer-tech. There is room for further disruption in other spaces as well.
The Industry Map Definition
With the help of friends from the IDF’s top intelligence units, SNC and connections in the industry, we set out to create Israel’s first market map for robotics. One of the biggest challenges was deciding which domains and technologies to include in the market map. A few hurdles we needed to tackle regarding the scope were:
- i3’s take on drones as robots — we’ve seen a growing trend in the past few years in Israel with companies creating drone-based solutions. Even though we consider drones to be robotic, we decided to include very few representatives since we felt it would over-shadow the rest of the market map. With the abundance in drone technology, it deserves its own market map.
- sensors and enablers — many sensors used in the robotics industry are versatile and include use-cases from other domains (like the automotive industry). In order to create a focused industry map and not disperse to other technologies, we decided to include only sensors and enablers with robotics as a main use-case. We defined this category as technologies that enable robotics creators to develop and improve their solutions. This meant including motion sensors, AI for robotics, operating systems, and others.
After many efforts we managed to solidify a distilled definition for our first version of the market map — Israeli companies formed in the past 10 years, focused on robotics. To us, this included human-machine interaction and industry automation using a combination of hardware and software.
Insights and Further Discussions
After holding a small event to unveil our first discoveries, the immediate input we received was to include sensors and other enablers that Israeli startups have developed. From discussions with industry experts, we came to understand how incredible Israelis are at developing tools to enable further advancements and not necessarily the robotics themselves. It was brought to our attention that robotics giants — like Japan — come “window shopping” in Israel to better their existing hardware solutions. Thanks to everyone’s input, we decided to add as many advancements to demonstrate Israel’s advantage and forte in this space.
Having said that, one of the goals in mind while creating this market map was to encourage Israeli entrepreneurs to consider creating more solutions using robotics. It is a relatively underused technology in Israel, and is still considered a “blue ocean”. With so many companies in the ecosystem focused on software and cyber, there is room to dive deep into industry problems and find creative solutions in the physical world.
In continuation with our initial assumptions regarding the division of robotics by industries, we can see the majority of robotics companies are focused on industrial uses, agriculture and healthcare. There is an abundance of opportunity for disruption in other industries with the use of this exceptional technology. It will be interesting to see in the coming years whether the Israeli startup ecosystem will take a leap of faith into robotics in a similar manner as they did in drones and sensors.
Israel up until today has hindered behind, with very few investments in the space (52 to be exact). In recent years we have slowly seen advancements of investors into the local robotics playing field. The majority of these investments, occurred between 2014–2017.
If we’re discussing incremental opportunities — Crunchbase states in their robotics listing that total investments amounted to a staggering 20.1B$ worldwide. Over 2378 funding rounds reported, 1142 companies received funding to utilise this technology in their solutions.
Robotics is still a small space in Israel, with less than one hundred companies focused on the technology as a use-case or as a solution. The ecosystem has remained relatively homogenous with founders hopping from one exceptional company in the domain to the next. At i3 we are hopeful to find more founders looking to solve industry problems in the physical world using cutting-edge technology!
i3 Equity Partners is keen on helping deep tech founders push boundaries and accelerate their technology to the next level! You can find us at i3’s website or contact us directly on linkedin.
Looking forward to hearing feedback and getting in touch with you —
Disclaimer and Final Notes…
We made the best efforts we could to include all of the relevant companies in the domain. Even so — we are human and might’ve made mistakes. If you feel like there are changes to be made, suggestions for more companies to add or updates that should be included — reach out!
See you in V2.0 of i3’s robotics market map!