Israeli IT firms to bid for unique ID card project

By Fakir Balaji, IANS
Thursday, July 2, 2009

BANGALORE - Israeli IT firms will partner with Indian vendors to jointly bid for the ambitious unique identification (ID) card project of the Indian government, a visiting Israeli IT industry official has said.

“Israeli IT firms with domain expertise in e-governance and homeland security will bid for the unique ID card project jointly with Indian vendors, as local participation is key to such projects dealing with critical mass,” Katrin Melamed, business development manager for the Israeli software industry, told IANS here.

Melamed, who is leading an Israeli IT delegation on a week-long trip to India, said many Israeli firms have developed the technology and solutions for e-governance projects like ID cards with security features such as biometric or fingerprints.

The trip is sponsored by the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute (IEICI) and funded by the Israeli government.

“Though we are a small nation of seven million, every Israeli citizen has a smart card with personal details embedded in a chip. Our leading IT firms have the architecture and the model for the Indian ID card project, which is set to cover over a billion people,” Melamed said Wednesday on the margins of an IT seminar here.

The government-funded project, to be implemented by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) under the chairmanship of former Infosys Technologies co-chairman Nandan M. Nilekani, is expected to create unique identification cards to all citizens by 2011.

The 14-member delegation, representing large, medium and small IT firms are scouting for partnerships with Indian counterparts to develop or customise software products or solutions for Indian and global markets.

“The delegation has interacted with leading IT firms such as TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) in Mumbai early this week and are here for a similar exercise with hi-tech firms like Infosys and Wipro. It will be in Delhi Thursday for a similar exercise,” said Elad Goz, Israeli consul for economic affairs.

The delegation is looking for partnerships in digital broadcast media, legacy IT modernisation solutions, homeland security and e-governance.

With about 3,000 indigenous IT firms, spanning hardware and software, the Israeli hi-tech industry has grown exponentially with exports alone accounting for $5.8 billion in 2008 as against $90 million in 1990.

“In the absence of a lucrative domestic market for historical and social reasons, we are an export-oriented nation with only human capital and limited natural resources due to scarce land and smaller size of the country,” Melamed pointed out.

As a result, Israeli IT industry focuses more on research and development (R&D), product innovation and technology upgrading to be globally competitive in an ever-changing business environment.

North America contributes about 40 percent to Israel’s total IT exports, while Europe accounts for 30 percent and the balance (30 percent) is generated from rest of the world, including Asia.

“Our unique geographic, geopolitical, demographic, and cultural characteristics have combined to create a different software development climate where innovation and entrepreneurship are the norm, early adoption is the rule, and thinking ‘out of the box’ is a day-to-day phenomenon,” Rita Katzir, vice-president of Tel Aviv-based i21-Ventures, said.

As part of its ‘Look Asia Policy’ the Israeli government has decided to expand industry and trade ties with India in diverse sectors, including drip irrigation, agro-technology, water conservation, IT, telecom and homeland security.

“The trade balance between the two countries grew marginally to $4 billion in 2008 from $3.3 billion in 2007 due to global meltdown. We are keen to boost ties in the knowledge sector through partnerships, joint ventures and venture funding,” Goz averred.

The non-profit IEICI, supported by the Israeli government and the private sector, facilitates business ties, joint ventures and strategic alliances between overseas and Israeli firms.

Filed under: Infosys, TCS, Wipro, eGovernance

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