May 22, 2018 | German auto giant Volkswagen opened a new innovation center in Tel Aviv focused on connectivity, smart navigation, cybersecurity, e-mobility, and big data. The new Volkswagen Group Campus Tel Aviv, dubbed “Konnect,” was inaugurated this week in the presence of the Israeli Minister of Economy Eli Cohen “will provide local partners and [mobility-based] startups with direct access to the Volkswagen Group and its many brands,” and will engage “in business collaborations with the highly innovative tech scene in Israel,” the company said in a press announcement. Chief Customer Officer of Volkswagen Group Peter Harris said, “I am a strong believer in the technological innovations being developed within the Israeli market and I am convinced that they can help us reach our goal of being one of the global market leaders in sustainable mobility. Konnect is another step in expanding our activities in Israel and will help our portfolio of brands engage with the Israeli start-up ecosystem.” Konnect will be headed by Stephanie Reimann who said she was “excited to be moving to Israel in order to head the new Volkswagen Group Campus Tel Aviv and I look forward to working with the Israeli start-up ecosystem in order to identify cutting-edge technologies for our future mobility solutions. The mission of ‘Konnect’ is to connect, foster and accelerate the high-tech initiatives of the Volkswagen Group brands in the future within the Israeli ecosystem. We will invite relevant companies to approach us and form a meaningful partnership with the Volkswagen Group and our strong brands.” The center, according to the announcement, plans to support “41 local start-ups with innovative business ideas connected to the future of mobility.” The selected entrepreneurs will present their ideas to a professional jury of VW experts, after which the winning startup will spend six months at the “Gläserne Manufaktur” or Transparent Factory in Dresden, while under professional mentorship.