Today, the two countries are making every effort to bring trade and cooperation in the non-oil sector to a new level, and the IT sector, agriculture, irrigation and green energy are defined as priorities. Earlier Economy Minister Mikayil Jabbarov said that another step in this direction was Azerbaijan Investment Company’s (AIC) investment in an Israeli technology start-up in partnership with leading global venture capital company OurCrowd.
In recent years Azerbaijan has been seeking new forms of financing innovative entrepreneurship and attracting international experts to implement educational programmes in the IT field. Along with the government’s preferential support and international grant assistance new mechanisms of financing local start-ups, software and other IT companies by means of private investment funds are being created in the country. In this respect, Azerbaijan cooperates very actively with the Israeli sector. As an example, we can mention the recently opened Azerbaijani-Israeli training centre for IT technologies at Azerbaijan State University of Oil and Industry, where training is carried out according to Israeli programs and by highly qualified personnel of this country. Israeli specialists in digital technologies are actively involved in the formation of smart villages and computerised agricultural complexes in the Karabakh region, as well as the introduction of IoT systems (Internet of Things) in urban, municipal, and other sectors.
In the same vein, an agreement was signed in mid-2021 between the Azerbaijan Investment Company (AIC) and Israel’s leading global venture capital firm and crowdfunding platform, OurCrowd. And last July the AIC and OurCrowd inked an accord on investment in Azerbaijani startups, as the Israeli venture capital fund specializes in investing in startups operating in the field of artificial intelligence, transport, energy, health, security and so on.
AIC’s cooperation with Israel’s high-tech sector is constantly expanding, gaining qualitatively new opportunities. “Azerbaijani Investment Company has for the first time invested one million US dollars in an Israeli technology startup as part of its cooperation programme with partner OurCrowd,” Azerbaijani Economy Minister Mikayil Jabbarov wrote on his Twitter page on February 15. – The Israeli startup LARGIX, in which AIC invested, specializes in the development of industrial products.
The Azerbaijani-Israeli partnership in the innovation and IT sector has great potential and will be expanded in the future through joint projects on the creation of a startup ecosystem, the development of specialised incubation centres and technology parks, efforts in the field of cybersecurity, as well as initiatives for digitalisation of industry as part of the formation of components of Industry 4.0 in our country.
Joint ventures also look promising in the fields of agriculture, specialised education, and consulting, as well as economical water use: the prospects for such cooperation were discussed again in Baku during the Azerbaijan-Israeli innovation forum “Agriculture & Education” held on February 13.
“Innovation plays a special role in the modern world, be it in education, the agricultural sector, or other areas of the economy. Azerbaijan pays special attention to the development of agriculture and education as well as innovations in these spheres, and holding Agriculture & Education Forum is a great opportunity to start cooperation between Azerbaijani and Israeli companies and explore the potential and opportunities of the Azerbaijani market,” said Alex Kaplun, president of Azerbaijan-Israel Chamber of Commerce and Industry, one of the organisers of the forum.
In some priority areas of the agricultural sector, specific projects have already been outlined, and preliminary assessments and studies of their commercial attractiveness are underway. In particular, it is planned to cooperate with Israeli companies in the production of high-yield seeds of vegetable and fruit crops, breeding work, formation of “smart” greenhouse farms, and high-yield livestock breeding. Israel intends to provide Azerbaijan with unique technologies, allowing multiple increases in the yield of wheat, with the calculation of increase of grain production up to the level, allowing its export.
An exchange of experience is also envisaged in the introduction of new, quality, and economic technologies for irrigation, reduction of water losses in the irrigation network, restoration of fertility of saline soils subjected to erosion, and extraction and purification of water in arid regions of our country. Not so long ago, an agreement was signed between the Land Reclamation and Water Industry of Azerbaijan and Israel’s Mekorot Company, which specialises in water resource management. Israel is a world leader in developing desalination and water purification technologies – the country hosts the world’s biggest sea desalination plant, producing 108 million cubic metres of fresh water a year. Thanks to desalination plants, Israel today fully supplies its cities with water, and over 80 per cent of the Middle Eastern country’s arable land uses recycled water – one of the highest rates in the world. Therefore, it is very important that the Azerbaijani-Israeli partnership also covers the freshwater production sector: last October a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the AIC and Israeli I.D.E. Water Assets Ltd. to build a desalination complex in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea was signed.
At the same time, Baku and Tel Aviv establish cooperation in the training of highly qualified personnel in modern areas of agriculture: 50 Azerbaijani students are expected to study in Israeli universities to obtain advanced experience in the field of agriculture.
And the number of such projects will be steadily increased. Azerbaijani AgriGo director general Anatoly Mindel expressed readiness to cooperate in undertakings aimed at introducing innovations in the agricultural sector of Azerbaijan. It should be noted that AgriGo is a leading manufacturer and subcontractor for the provision of ready-made and modular complexes, and specialises in the implementation of investment projects in the fields of poultry, meat and dairy complexes, and artificial fish farming.
“In Azerbaijan, the development of agriculture is designated as a priority area in accordance with the socio-economic development strategy of the country until 2026. In order to improve the quality of land unsuitable for agricultural activities the republic intends to use innovations and advanced technologies, and in this regard we are interested in developing relations with the Israeli side,” Agriculture Minister Inam Karimov said at the forum, stressing that our republic makes extensive use of Israel’s experience in the restoration of areas freed from occupation on the basis of “green” technologies. The agrarian minister also recalled that last year the Israeli minister of agriculture visited Azerbaijan, which gave additional impetus to the development of relations in the field of agriculture and innovation.
“Israel has great opportunities and experience in the agricultural sector, and we cooperate closely,” Kerimov said.