MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. and TEL AVIV, Israel, Feb. 15, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- To expand its in-market support of Israeli startups and entrepreneurs, Honda Silicon Valley Lab (HSVL) of Honda R&D Americas, Inc. announced a partnership with DRIVE, the new smart mobility innovation center that today opened in Tel Aviv, Israel. A first-of-its-kind hub founded by Mayer Group, DRIVE will foster enhanced collaboration between Honda R&D and Israeli transportation innovators.
With a booming tech sector in Israel, the DRIVE center is focused on supporting startups and entrepreneurs of all stages, with a startup accelerator, advanced prototyping labs, meeting rooms and shared workspace that encourage networking and collaboration. Israel is home to more than 5,000 startups and 750 venture-capital-backed companies.
As a DRIVE partner, Honda will actively engage with startups through its Honda Xcelerator open innovation program by providing expertise, funding and rapid prototyping opportunities that may evolve into additional business relationships. These activities will enable startups to receive accelerated validation of their technology and business model and, in turn, allow Honda to deepen its relationships with Israeli entrepreneurs.
"Honda Xcelerator has engaged with a broad array of startups in Israel over the last few years, working on innovative technologies with the potential to transform our future products," said Dennis Clark, Strategic Alliance Lead for Honda Xcelerator. "Our partnership with DRIVE will enable Honda to collaborate even more closely with local innovators and continue to accelerate and drive innovation."
Also supporting the DRIVE initiative with Honda are sponsors Hertz Rent a Car International, Israeli telematics company Ituran and Volvo Cars.
DRIVE will be led by founding partners Omer Shachar, an investment executive from the Mayer Group; Dr. Tal Cohen, an adjunct associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and successful entrepreneur; and Boaz Mamo, a specialist in smart mobility entrepreneurship and founder of EcoMotion and Capsule, a smart mobility accelerator.
"DRIVE was created from a significant need in the world of smart mobility entrepreneurs to hone real market needs through collaboration with market leaders, creation of initial stage prototypes, and the ability to back the collaboration with focused investments," said Boaz Mamo, DRIVE's CEO. "Our partnership with Honda Xcelerator will help the most promising Israeli mobility startups to have quick market validation and access to one of the leading OEM's open innovation programs in the world."
Honda Continues Collaboration with OurCrowd
Since announcing its partnership a year ago with OurCrowd, the world's leading equity crowdfunding platform, Honda has continued to foster collaboration opportunities with Israel's tech community and will return to the 2017 OurCrowd Global Investor Summit on February 16, 2017, in Jerusalem. The summit is the world's largest equity crowdfunding event and the most significant investor event in Israel, with more than 5,000 attendees from over 80 countries. Interested in startups pursuing vehicle intelligence technologies, apps and software, Honda will welcome networking opportunities with potential partners that are focused on transforming the mobility experience.
Nick Sugimoto, head of HSVL, will be joined on the Summit's big stage by VocalZoom, already a Honda Xcelerator partner, for a presentation addressing how tomorrow's technologies are being applied today to drive business and change lives.
HSVL is working with Israeli startup VocalZoom to apply its optical microphone technology to improve voice interaction inside the vehicle. Honda and VocalZoom introduced their collaboration with a proof-of-concept demo at CES 2017 in January.
VocalZoom is a leading supplier of Human to Machine Communication (HMC) optical sensors that enable a more natural, personalized and secure voice-control experience. VocalZoom's optical sensor "reads" facial skin vibrations during speech, enabling it to isolate a driver's voice from all of the other background sounds in the car. The result is clean, isolated driver commands that are significantly easier for automotive voice-recognition systems to understand and obey than was previously possible with traditional voice-control solutions.
About Honda Xcelerator
Based in the heart of California's Silicon Valley, Honda Xcelerator is an open innovation program designed to facilitate collaboration between early stage technology startups and global Honda. Honda created the program to engage innovators in an open and supportive environment. The program offers funding for rapid prototyping, a collaborative workspace and pairing with Honda mentors. To learn more, visit xcelerator.hondasvl.com.
About Honda Technology
Honda is creating technologies and products that advance the company's clean, safe, fun and connected brand values. These efforts include advancements in automated vehicles, connectivity and ultra-low carbon mobility. In North America, the company has more than 300,000 vehicles on the road equipped with the Honda Sensing or AcuraWatch safety and driver-assistive technologies and more than 400,000 vehicles featuring Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ compatibility. Continuing its pursuit of open innovation, Honda launched the Honda R&D Innovation Lab Tokyo in 2016, and Honda Xcelerator and Honda Developer Studio in Mountain View, CA in 2015 to accelerate collaboration with innovators working on intelligent technologies.
DRIVE is hosting, growing, and fostering top future mobility startups while providing our partners with the opportunity to obtain early insights into the start-ups' cutting edge technology ahead of their competitors. DRIVE is selecting startups with unique value proposition in the smart mobility domain. DRIVE is the place for entrepreneurs that are looking to apply their ideas and products to the smart mobility field.
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SOURCE American Honda Motor Co., Inc.