Startup nations | Israel firms putting the pedal to the metal in auto technology

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The automotive industry has been reinventing itself since the first car rolled off an assembly line in 1897.  But the evolution in automotive technology has been reaching top gear lately.

Part of the revolution is focused on the driver’s experience from the moment he or she steps into a vehicle. Controls are personalized and gestures recognized to adjust things from temperature to music — to whether the car actually drives itself.

But these changes aren’t coming only from automakers like Ford, GM and Toyota. Companies such as Google and Apple are also introducing innovative technologies to the historically traditional car manufacturers.

That’s why almost every major car-related company that can be found in Michigan can now also be found in Silicon Valley.

Israel is catching a ride on this trend, as well. Perhaps the “Startup Nation” is on its way to also earning the designation “Transportation Nation.”

This past week, the Israeli Economic Mission to the West Coast hosted some 15 Israeli transportation companies. They met with potential strategic partners in Silicon Valley and pitched local venture capital firms about the innovative advances being made in Israel in the field of transportation.

The “Future of Transportation Delegation” included Israeli startups Engie Motors, Inpris, MobiWize and Argus Cyber Security.

Engie Motors (www.engie.co.il) has created an app and diagnostic tool that can analyze a vehicle and provide the driver with information such as the exact nature of a malfunction, immediate fixes and the best places to repair the car nearby. The app even gives price quotes for repairs, which can protect car owners from surprises in their repair bills.

Inpris (www.inprisltd.com) has creating patent-pending technology that recognizes movements of each finger anywhere on a touchscreen. The technology enables users to create up to 16,000 gestures and commands with just the use of their fingertips. What this means for the automobile industry is that a driver can issue commands by using a touchscreen without looking at it.

MobiWize (www.mobi-wize.com) has created a learning system for cars that provides real-time instructions to the driver or directly to vehicle systems. The platform optimizes fuel consumption, provides road analytics to avoid potholes and other hazards, and also offers predictive cruise control and performance analytics. To help accomplish this, the MobiWize system incorporates crowdsourcing data on things such as road conditions and the engine performance of different car models. It’s a technology that also can be used for fleet managers to monitor not only the performance of their cars, but their drivers, as well.

Argus Cyber Security (www.argus-sec.com) has developed software for vehicles that automatically detects unauthorized access and reports irregularities. That allows manufacturers to add secure remote access to a vehicle and wireless monitoring while keeping hackers from being able to take control of a car’s alarm system, its brakes or even its steering wheel — terrifying possibilities as we move into an era of the “connected car.”


Startup of the month

ClicksMob (www.clicksmob.com), which helps advertisers reach customers on mobile devices, is moving its global headquarters to San Francisco’s Embarcadero this month.

To date, the company’s largest office is in Tel Aviv. The new headquarters will be led by Israeli CEO Chen Levanon, who has relocated.

ClicksMob is a fast-growing company whose revenues reportedly jumped by 900 percent last year; it was named No. 28 in Forbes’ list of most promising companies for 2015. The mobile affiliate marketing company will recruit up to 20 new staff in San Francisco in the coming months.


Acquisition of the month

MyECheck recently acquired 100 percent of Seergate (www.seergate.us) — an Israeli software company that has created a comprehensive electronic payment platform for banks — for a minimum of $3 million in shares of MyECheck common stock.

In addition, although not quite an acquisition, WeWork (www.wework.com) has partnered with Chase Bank, which is now offering WeWork members discounted rates and premium customer service with Chase Commerce. Co-founded by Israelis, WeWork is a co-work space with locations in the United States, United Kingdom, Israel and the Netherlands.

Gili Ovadia is the S.F.-based Israeli consul for economic affairs to the West Coast.