Italy’s automobile industry has a glorious history, producing popular models, upmarket brands and supercars famous for motorsport victories. Meanwhile, Israel is the hi-tech powerhouse of the Mediterranean.
“Our closest Silicon Valley” is how Vincenzo Antonetti, Head of the International Network Office at Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center describes Israel’s formidable technology industry.
Banking group Intesa Sanpaolo helps its customers to develop the most promising businesses of the future. Now it is bringing together Italian and Israeli companies to create a car industry for the 21st century.
One company that Intesa Sanpaolo took its clients to visit on a recent trip to Israel was Mobileye, a long-established and successful player in the country’s thriving auto-tech industry.
In 2017, Israel’s smart car and transportation businesses made more than $18bn in exits, investments and capital raising. Now the country boasts more than 450 companies developing innovative transport systems. That excellence has been acknowledged on a global scale as Volkswagen, Ford, Porsche and Google have all invested in Israel’s auto-tech sector.
Mobileye’s sales director Raz Peleg says: “We are the world leader in collision avoidance systems and autonomous vehicle technology. Our customer portfolio today includes most of the automotive manufacturers out there.”
The company is seeking to significantly reduce road traffic accidents and that means removing humans from the driving process.
“We have 25 million vehicles out there with our collision avoidance systems,” says Peleg. “Mobileye has the core technology that’s all around the autonomous decision-making and the AI.”
To function effectively, autonomous vehicles rely on a suite of technologies working in tandem. Radar and lidar – radio and light systems – are integrated into the autos, enabling them to detect obstacles. Artificial Intelligence works out how the vehicle will negotiate with other drivers. Ultra-accurate data, provided by mapping technology, ensures the vehicles stay on track.
The challenges are huge but the rewards potentially enormous. Business consultants and market research company Frost & Sullivan predicts that the world market for advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous vehicles will be worth $83bn by 2025.
The opportunity spurred Intel into action. In 2017 the US tech giant bought Mobileye while simultaneously relocating its automotive research teams to Jerusalem.
The acquisition, which created a $15.3 billion company, has brought the days of self-driving automobiles on the road in Europe much closer with Intel, BMW and Mobileye promising commercial autonomous vehicles in 2021.
Mobileye’s growth and ambition clearly impressed the Italians on the visit.
‘We introduce these kind of companies to our customers to help them grow, to make them more sustainable, to create new opportunities.’
Vincenzo Antonetti, Head of the International Network Office at Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center
“This is the first step in the networking but once we come back to Italy it’s down to business. Using our labs we can prove to our customers that Intesa Sanpaolo can be their partner of the future.”