Amazon to set-up two Israeli R&D centers

Online shopping giant Amazon is to set up research and development centers with 100 staff in Tel Aviv and Haifa. It wants to further improve its Alexa Voice Shopping system, which allows shoppers to speak their order into a machine rather than typing it into a computer.

Alibaba to open Israeli R&D center

Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba is to open a Research & Development lab in Israel. Alibaba has already invested in Israeli startups including Visualead, Infinity Augmented Reality, Lumus and Twiggle. It is also a partner of Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP).

Connecting British Telecom customers

Israel’s AudioCodes has been selected by communications provider British Telecom to provide session border controller (SBC) solutions (for connectivity between IP networks) to be stationed at British Telecom's business customers.

Wizz Air planes to be Israeli maintained

The Bedek Aviation subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries is to perform maintenance and provide technical services to Wizz Air. The Hungarian low-cost airline flies from Tel Aviv to 17 European destinations, including London Luton.

SolarEdge becomes a Unicorn

Israel’s SolarEdge Technologies, the world’s largest provider of solar power optimization units, has celebrated a financial milestone. The company has tripled its stock value in less than a year and at $1.2 billion it joins Israel’s growing number of Unicorn companies (worth over one billion dollars).

A sunny addition to the TASE

I featured previously Israel’s SolarPaint has developed ultra-thin wireframe and nanoparticle-infused coating to generate solar power. It has merged with Or City Holdings, changed its name to Apollo Power, raised NIS 9.4 million and listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Israeli wines have the critics in good spirits

Victor Schoenfeld of Yarden Wines explains why wine from the Golan Heights taste so good. Reasons include the Mediterranean climate, different volcanic soils, elevations from 1,200 to 4,000 feet and one of the world’s oldest tradition for winemaking.

An underrated travel destination

The UK’s Telegraph lists ten reasons to visit the holy land, including the beaches, weather, nightlife, food, architecture, museums, history and ticket prices.

Chinese tourists discover Israel

A growing number of Chinese visitors come to the Holy Land. Israel is encouraging the influx, with direct flights from Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. The Tourism Ministry has even launched a Mandarin version of its website.

Government deficit falls below 2%

Thanks to Intel’s purchase of Israel’s Mobileye, the Israeli government received $4.1 billion of CGT from shareholders selling to Intel. It reduced government deficit to 1.9% of GDP. The IMF also raised its growth forecast for Israel’s economy to 3.1% for 2017 and 3.4% for 2018.