Ford is the latest automobile manufacturer to choose Israel as the venue for its hackathon to develop technology for connected cars.
“We’ve done events like these around the world, but this is the first time we are doing it in Israel,” said Scott Lyons, Ford’s point man on developing partnerships with app makers for connected cars. “We think Israel is a hotbed of engineering talent and ideas, and we decided it was high time we tapped into its tech ecosystem.”
In recent months, Israel has emerged as a center for technology development for several auto manufacturers – including Toyota, and Hyundai, who have already held hackathons in the region.
The Ford AppLink Challenge was a 24-hour open forum for Israel’s tech community to develop new technologies for Ford Sync Systems in the company’s new models. Winners received cash or a new Ford Fiesta, and, said Lyons, an opportunity to partner with Ford on projects. The event was held in partnership with Axis Innovation, a boutique advisory firm that connects investors and corporations with technology startups globally.
“AppLink is the biggest and oldest connected car platform of any car maker (the system first appeared over five years ago), and at this point we have dozens of apps in most of the ‘usual’ categories, like music and local data,” said Lyons. “Israel is a good place for Internet of Things and wearable app technology, and we think developers here will have good ideas for apps that have a health theme that can connect to smart watches or other digital health devices.”
Although the Challenge is Ford’s first major event in Israel, the company has had a presence here for at least two years. “We’ve had two ‘talent scouts’ on the ground here for the past couple of years,” said Lyons. “Their job is to seek out technology and start-ups that fits into our vision, in a number of areas.”
He added that “I see the hackathon as the beginning of a beneficial, long-term relationship with Israel,” he added. “We are dipping our toe in the water with this, but I am positive we will be doing much more in Israel in the future.”