Chamber Business News

Falafel & Fintech Festival draws Arizona tech & business reps to Israel

Last year, a number of entrepreneurs, investors and innovators behind the world of Fintech descended on Tel Aviv, Israel, for the inaugural Falafel & Fintech event. An evening of discussion on the growing financial tech industry ensued and highlighted the excitement and development within it. Fast-forward a year and Fintech is all the rage, showing promise for this year’s F&F event, which saw a number of Arizona-based entrepreneurs and commerce influencers join.

As the summer ended here in Arizona, representatives from Arizona headed to London to promote the state as a great landing spot for Fintech companies to expand their operations. The efforts were well received and worked in tandem with the innovative Fintech Sandbox open for business here in Arizona, which invites startups to test out their work without regulation for two years.

With this in mind, it was perfect timing for Arizona to head abroad to connect with others in the industry in a land that’s seeing huge tech growth itself. Enter Fintech and Falafel, an annual technology conference in Israel that brings industry leaders together from all over the globe for networking and promotion.

Along with a handful of representatives from California, Arizona sent about 10 individuals to tout the latest tech advancements in the state and the potential growth Arizona presents for companies in Israel looking to advance their business and technology. Among the Arizona delegation were Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority and Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

“Israel is known as the startup state, but because of its size and location, it’s very important for it to have relationships outside of Israel,” says Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Hamer, who was present on the trip, stresses the importance of tying Arizona and Israel together through tech business opportunities.

In fact, the bond between Arizona and Israel is not only very real and very strong, but constantly growing. Everything from self-flying drone developers to unmanned aircraft builders to agricultural tech companies are finding opportunity here in Arizona to develop their work and set up U.S. headquarters. Part of the goal for those from Arizona who headed to Falafel & Fintech was to network and promote the state.

“We have in our view, the best infrastructure in terms of policy and political leadership,” says Hamer. “We have the right environment for these companies to come and test things out and scale them up in our market. That’s why we were invited out. We’re ahead of the curve when it comes to regulatory and policy environment. We’re the only state in the country that has a fintech sandbox.”

It’s widely known that Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas, as well as new York City, have always been and will continue to be top destinations for companies looking to expand their brand and resources. But Arizona continues to act as a facilitator for foreign companies and even some national companies to test things out and scale up. This was a big point of conversation for Hamer and his fellow Arizona delegates.

“Whether it’s autonomous vehicles or fintech or drones, you can look at many different sectors where it shows that we’re the best place to test things out,” he adds.

Nick Esquer

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