Dr. Tal Cohen describes his company as a quarterback and as a matchmaker. Co-founded by Cohen in 2017 in Tel Aviv, DRIVE TLV connects small tech startups with major auto manufacturers and suppliers.
The goal, he explained, is to give those small startups a way to make their technologies available to large potential customers who could benefit from them but may not have been aware of their existence.
“I had an idea to make both teams winners,” Cohen said in an interview. The methodology is to create some kind of framework for the two to collaborate. I call it a marketing platform. ”
The centerpiece of that platform is DRIVE TLV’s Fastlane program. The startups that have participated in the program have raised more than $ 1 billion in the past four years, according to Cohen.
Technologies under development at Drive include different levels of automated driving and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), connectivity software, automated vehicle inspection systems, and various vehicle electrification projects and smart city applications.
Now, the company is expanding its capabilities with the opening of the POWER by Drive test track and research and development center near Tel Aviv. The center officially opened this month for testing, technology validation and collaboration from startups and corporate partners, including Honda, Volvo Cars, Volvo Group, Denso, NEC Corporation, Novelis, Cox Automotive, Hertz, Ituran, Next Gear Ventures and Mayer Cars. and Trucks of Israel. Group.
“Power is a place where organizations can collaborate and work together to create their products and concepts together,” Cohen said. “Power or Drive startups are validating, improving, refining and qualifying their concepts for the future. For corporations, they take a concept that is very innovative and for them we provide a path to take them from early stage concept to maturity so they can put it as a competitive advantage on their platform in, say, three to four years. ”
It is a more difficult task than it sounds. Small startups may have great innovation, but they don’t know how to properly present it or understand its value to the market, and large corporations can be plagued with turgid cultures and bureaucracies that make it difficult to introduce new ideas, Cohen said.
“Over the course of seven to eight months we take the technology, introduce it to the partner executives, and thereby increase the chances of acceptance and understand the value,” Cohen said. “Each of the startups is like a jewel, with amazing knowledge. If you treat it as a source of knowledge, encourage it, give it a little help, almost like giving water to a seed, it will grow. In the case of large companies, somehow you have to find a way for them to change themselves, their DNA, without losing their edge. ”
One success story Cohen notes came during a visit from Honda’s CEO. The challenge, he said, was to convince the director of a leading company in the production of internal combustion engines that electric vehicles are the future.
The key, Cohen said, was to take “one innovation at a time.” Through its Fastlane program, Honda met several dozen Israeli tech startups and “created more than 150 successful collaborations with our partners and raised more than $ 1 billion.”
Drive TLV also works with startups involved in other industries such as insurance, power, drones and batteries, Cohen said.
Based on its success, Cohen said that DRIVE TLV wants to expand its activities with startups beyond Israel, including several in the US, perhaps by the end of the year and possibly in Germany and eventually globally.
It’s about serving as a quarterback and matchmaker by calling the plays that result in a winning game, according to Cohen.
“Each one is a small victory for our partners by showing how innovation is accelerated, how an idea turns into success.”