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July 22, 2020 11:14 am

Calling on Israeli Startups: Major Telecom Alliance Invites Companies to Take Part in 5G Revolution

avatar by Allon Sinai / CTech

Hard at work during the fourth annual Jerusalem College of Technology (Machon Lev) “Great Minds Hackathon,” December 2019. Photo: Michael Erenburg.

CTech – Go Ignite, an alliance of four leading global telecommunication corporations, has launched a global call for startups that are developing 5G products or services catering to the consumer or enterprise sectors. Go Ignite comprises hubraum, Orange Fab, Singtel Innov8, and Connected Open Innovation, the open innovation arms of Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Singtel, and Telefónica respectively, who together have 1.2 billion subscribers worldwide. Interested participants can submit their proposals until September 7 through the alliance’s website and selected startups will have the opportunity to present their proposals to key management of the Go Ignite alliance members in an online workshop on September 21-23.

Singtel Innov8, a $250 million fund set up 10 years ago, has a strong presence in Singapore, Silicon Valley, and Tel Aviv, and Investment Director and Head of Israel office Gil Prashker is eager for local startups to sign up to be part of the workshop which is only set to include around six companies in total.

“We want as many Israeli startups as possible at the forefront and we believe they are out there,” Prashker told CTech. “The uniqueness here is that startups will be able to access four of the world’s leading operators with nearly 1.2 billion subscribers via a single gateway. All of these operators are investing heavily in 5G infrastructure in the hope that there will be applications and services that will be able to utilize these capabilities. The operators are looking for more use-cases and are open to solutions from startups, whether they are in infrastructure, IoT, cloud gaming, or security issues that arise from this new technology. The goal is that startups understand that these operators, that historically were used to only working with the Ericsson’s and Nokia’s of the world, are interested to work with them. There will be relevant C-level executives from every operator and they will all be here together as we try to build this ecosystem.”

According to the organizers, proposals will be evaluated based on each project’s degree of “technological innovation, feasibility, rapid implementation time, and maturity.” The workshop is designed to help the selected startups validate their proposals by engaging the business units of the alliance members. “Startups which successfully complete the online workshop would be better positioned to launch their 5G products or services to the market given the Go Ignite members combined customer base of more than 1.2 billion customers across Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Australia,” read the press release.

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“The goal of the alliance is to create a knowledge-sharing culture between the operators,” Gal Avital of Strategic Partnerships at Singtel Innov8 and member of the Go Ignite Steering Committee told CTech. “Everyone understands that even if these telecommunication operators are based in different regions around the world they are facing similar challenges and we understood that via this alliance we can share information and be more successful. Part of this includes integrating solutions from startups into their operations and then also reaching resale agreements from which both the operators and the startups will profit.

“As part of this summit, we are inviting selected startups to present their solutions. This is something that will be super valuable to any startup that is operating in this sector.”

Singtel is Asia’s leading communications technology group, with the group having a presence in Asia, Australia, and Africa and over 700 million mobile customers in 21 countries.

Innov8 has made to date around 90 investments, including 10 in Israel. Earlier this year Innov8, together with its alliance partners, participated in a $13 million Series A round in Israel-based startup Clear, which is working to apply blockchain technology to the global telecom industry.

“Innov8 is an independent fund with an independent decision-making process that was set up to help Singtel, a company with infrastructure across all of Southeast Asia, to undergo the process of digital transformation,” said Prashker, who’s been with the fund since 2012. “We always invest in sectors that we feel are of strategic value for Singtel. Things that are ahead of the curve.”

Prashker said that there is also the potential that participation in the workshop could lead to an investment in the startups by the alliance members.

“As an operator and an investment body we think that 5G is going to be disruptive to many industries with IoT, Industry 4.0 and cloud gaming.”

“Singtel and the other operators all have operational 5G laboratories and they want to open them to selected startups. This is a valuable resource,” said Prashker. “There is also a willingness to make investments. As part of the alliance we sometimes invest together and there is also the potential for that here.”

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