News / Ottawa

Israeli-Arab entrepreneurs land in Ontario for first round of 'speed-dating'

"Untapped" business potential in both countries, says head of Canada-Israel tech group.

Saher Hamed, CEO of the Israel-based Remedor Biomed (left), meets with Gabriel Pulido-Cejudo of the BioConverGene Technologies Corporation during an Israeli-Ottawa networking event at Carleton University on Tuesday.

lucy scholey/metro

Saher Hamed, CEO of the Israel-based Remedor Biomed (left), meets with Gabriel Pulido-Cejudo of the BioConverGene Technologies Corporation during an Israeli-Ottawa networking event at Carleton University on Tuesday.

The concept of entrepreneurial “speed dating” is nothing new. But this week, for the first time, a group of Israeli-Arab business owners landed in Ontario for a series of quick matchmaking sessions with potential partners.

The Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation (CIIRDF) organized the event, first in Toronto, and then at Carleton University on Tuesday.

CIIRDF president Henri Rothschild said there’s "untapped potential" in both countries.

“A Canadian company that has a partner in another part of the world is at a huge advantage,” he said. “Similarly, an Israeli company – whether they’re from the north or elsewhere – that has a partner in Canada also has a huge advantage.”

Arab entrepreneurs face obstacles in Israel’s tech industry, where there are few opportunities for innovation outside the military, said Rothschild. And few Arabs serve in the Israeli army, so they are best to seek partnerships outside the country.

The dozen northern Israeli-Arab entrepreneurs in Ottawa included biomedical and clean tech companies.

Tony Bailetti, director of Carleton University’s Technology Innovation Management Program, said the networking event was a chance for Ottawa entrepreneurs to build global connections and possibly secure investments.

Saher Hamed, CEO of Remedor Biomed – an Israeli company that’s developing a drug to cure chronic wounds in diabetics – is looking to Canada as a host for clinical trials.

“Ontario is a good place because of diversity,” he said. “We always seek diversity to make the clinical trials successful.”