Itongadol.- The 3M company on Sunday launched a customer innovation center in Herzliya, a move that signals its interest in Israel as a market, and not simply a source of technology.
“Now it’s the right time to take this step in Israel. A customer innovation center is about connecting our customers to their needs. It’s a place where we create that connection,” said Bernart Cicut, 3M’s VP Central/ East Europe, who was in Israel for a whirlwind 24-hour visit marking the center’s launch.
3M, which has operated in Israel since 1996, has been involved in high-tech acquisitions and investments in the country in the past. In 2010, it paid $230 million for Attenti, a company that specializes in remote-monitoring technologies.
It’s also invested in companies such as VocalZoom, which develops voice recognition applications, and Takadu, which specializes in monitoring water infrastructure. This past year, it established an R&D arm in Israel.
“Israel is a very dynamic environment so we are always looking at new opportunities,” Cicut said.
The customer innovation center indicates that Israel is equally important as a market for the global corporation.
“At the customer innovation center, it’s also about developing the business in Israel for Israel,” Cicut said.
More than a demo room, the center is meant to be a place where 3M can tout its wares to customers, but also learn what kinds of new products those customers want.
“For me it’s a great facility because it’s all about how we work with our customers,” said 3m Israel General Manager Jonathan Pantanowitz.
The center, a roughly $500,000 investment, is one of about 50 3M has around the world. The interaction with customers, said Cicut, has helped the company develop new products and modify existing ones. About a third of 3M’s revenues are from products that were created in the past five years.
“3M is about science, and what we’re doing every day is applying science to life,” said Cicut.
Though best known for office supplies, sticky notes and scotch tape among the general public, the company is involved in areas as diverse as defense and dental work, transportation and nanotechnology.