Haier Electronics Opens Israel Hub to Find Smart Home Startups

  • Appliance maker to help Israeli companies expand into China
  • Haier acquired GE appliances unit for $5.4 billion in 2016

Haier Electronics Group Co. opened its first office in Israel this week, expanding its search for smart home technologies.

”The decision to open an innovation center is fully aligned with Haier’s strategy: the world is our lab,” said Mr. Wang Ye, vice president and general manager of the Advanced Innovation Center in Haier’s appliance group. Not only will the company look for technologies for its product line, it will also help Israeli companies looking to expand in China, he said in an emailed statement.

Haier Electronics is part of the Haier Group, which acquired General Electric Co.’s appliances unit last year in a $5.4 billion deal.

Galit Jacobovitz, senior director of partner programs at the Haier Israel Innovation Center, said the company will be looking for technologies it will be able to integrate into its product lines.

”For example, if Haier wants to do a smart refrigerator that will say when the vegetables are going bad, we can look for startups that know how to detect this and integrate and sell it as part of the product,” Jacobovitz said in a phone interview.

Makers of household goods are increasingly producing smart appliances that connect to the internet. About one third of foreign investment in Israel last year came from China, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Beijing during a March trip there to exempt Israel from new currency restrictions and let Israeli companies raise more money from Chinese investors.

Eugene Kandel, chief executive officer of Start-Up Nation Central, a not-for-profit networking group that will help Haier find new technologies, said helping the Chinese company would be a win-win situation. 

“Helping Haier with continuous access to leading technologies in their fields of interest --IoT, big data, energy -- will help them become more competitive, more innovative, and more dominant in their markets,” he said. At the same time, it will give “Israel’s tech sector fuel for new innovations.”

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