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What a Night! The 2018 Conexx Gala Recap

Conexx: America Israel Business Connector was pleased to open Atlanta area celebrations of Israel’s 70th anniversary of statehood at the 2018 Conexx Gala on Wednesday, March 22, 2018 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at the Atlanta History Center. The annual event, which drew over 300 attendees, honors the people and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the US-Israel business relationship. This year, the organizers chose to present seven awards, one for each decade of Israeli statehood: the Tom Glaser Leadership Award, the U.S. Company of the Year, the Israeli Company of the Year, the Deal of the Year, the U.S. Partner of the Year, the Israeli Partner of the Year, and Innovative Academic Partnership.

Conexx was proud to present Benny Landa, Israeli entrepreneur of the decade and founder of The Landa Group, with the 2018 Tom Glaser Leadership Award. Mr. Landa has been an exemplary ambassador and strong leader furthering the cause of U.S. – Israel business ties. Known as “the father of commercial digital printing,” Landa is an extremely creative inventor, with 800 patents to his name. He pioneered a deal with Hewlett Packard selling Indigo for $850 million. The Landa Group chose to locate its Americas headquarters of its new business venture Landa Digital Printing in metro Atlanta, demonstrating a keen understanding of the business advantages of the Southeast U.S.

Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Southern Company, Thomas Fanning, who announced he would be taking his first trip to Israel later this year, presented the award. While unable to attend, Landa sent his remarks via video to address the attendees.

“In the past 40 years, Israel has shifted progressively more and more into high tech and today Israel is a technology power house. I’m so glad that my companies play a role in that transformation,” said Landa. “I can tell you that today, Indigo accounts for about one half of 1% of Israel’s growth domestic product, of which I’m very, very proud.”

Speaking to Israel’s reputation as the Startup Nation, Landa said, “Israelis have a healthy irreverence for everything; for authority, for the laws, and even for the laws of nature. We have the chutzpah to question the way things have been done before, that enables you to discover new ways of doing things and changing society forever.” He ended his address with, “As you can tell I’m thrilled to be living in Israel. I love my life in this country. Israeli is a wonderful and fantastic place.”

Conexx chose to honor Gulfstream with the U.S. Company of the Year Award. For nearly two decades, Gulfstream has demonstrated a sustaining commitment to partnership through its relationship with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Since 2001, Gulfstream and IAI have collaborated to design, develop and certify more than 500 super mid-size G280 and G200 and mid-size G150 and G100 business aircraft. Gulfstream, which has offices in Tel Aviv, has also joined forces with IAI and subsidiaries, ELTA Systems and Bedek, to produce Conformal Airborne Early Warning (CAEW) aircraft and Special Electronic Missions Aircraft (SEMA) for the Israel Ministry of Defense.

Conexx also honored Sapiens with the Israeli Company of the Year Award. A technology company founded in 1986 and headquartered in Holon, Israel, Sapiens has been providing software for the insurance industry for over thirty years, allowing users to effortlessly streamline their business and adjust parameters to align with their business policies. Sapien’s newest innovative product “Decision” is unique amongst its competition as a management solution that enables business users to model, verify, manage and execute automated decisions, and sold out of the Raleigh, NC office. The new product has established a new revenue stream for Sapiens.

The Birmingham Jewish Federation was awarded the U.S. Community Partner of the Year Award. The Birmingham Jewish Federation is the longest standing funder for Conexx beginning their support in 1993. Birmingham has been an exemplary leader at the center of Conexx relationships with the Alabama Department of Commerce, Birmingham Business Alliance, Alabama Power, University of Alabama Birmingham, HealthSouth and interaction in the Healthcare, Automotive, and Banking/Finance industry sectors. The Federation has been a key partner in the city’s sister city relationship with Rosh Ha’ayin.

For the inaugural Israeli Community Partner of the Year Award, Conexx was proud to honor the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce. One of Israel’s largest business organizations that are strictly non-profit, non-political, and non-partisan, The Federation is dedicated to a market economy and free enterprise and has been an extraordinary strategic partner with Conexx. FICC helps foster global commercial links and was instrumental in forging commercial ties that eventually paved the way for diplomatic relations with countries that had not previously recognized Israel, such as the former Soviet Union, China, India, and Indonesia.

By any measure, the acquisition of Mobileye by Intel, is the most notable deal of the past year. This, the largest acquisition in Israel’s history, is expected to accelerate innovation for the automotive industry, especially in the Southeast, positioning Intel as a leading technology provider in the fast-growing market for highly and fully autonomous vehicles. The combination will allow Mobileye’s leading computer vision expertise to complement Intel’s high-performance computing and connectivity expertise to create automated driving solutions from cloud to car.

Finally, Conexx honored the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research with its Innovation Academic Partnership award. Founded in 2017 and home to the nation’s only graduate department of automotive engineering, 95% of the Center’s students are employed in the automotive industry, with 26% of all their graduates still working in South Carolina. Members of the ICAR Administration and Faculty travelled to Israel in June 2016 to visit Israel’s automotive ecosystem. Partnering with Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), CU-iCAR and Carolinas Alliance 4 Innovation (CA4I), Conexx provides support for the Global Mobility Network (GMN) to foster relationships among all key stakeholders with Israeli companies in the smart mobility sector.

“While we celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary of statehood, it’s important to remember and highlight the ways the country has impacted business, technology, and innovation both here in the U.S. and across the world,” remarked Conexx President Guy Tessler. “We at Conexx ultimately have the task of facilitating relationships and interactions to support the economy of the Southeast and Israel and create prosperity based on these innovations. There is so much more work we hope to do and look forward to the future for exciting possibilities.”

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