When you founded Interlligent RF & Microwave Solutions in Israel in 2000, what were your aims?

At that time, my only intention was to build a unique knowledge center that would offer in-depth practical training for newcomers to the RF and microwave industry. As a design engineer, I felt that the knowledge I attained from my university studies didn’t prepare me enough for real life. In particular, I felt that issues such as practical constraints, measurements setups and good engineering practices were missing.

Hence, I started the enterprise solely as a training company, but over the years since 2000, we have expanded into other complementary fields as well.

Please outline Interlligent’s activities in the U.K.

In Israel, from the initial training company I have mentioned, we expanded into four other fields: RF test equipment, RF engineering services and RF components and systems, along with our activity as an RF ventures incubator. We represent RF companies and happened to have Israeli companies that had subsidiaries or partners within the U.K. who put us in touch with their U.K. partners.

So, recognizing the potential, two years ago we decided to register as a U.K. company with Companies House, which we did last year (2014). At the moment, we offer test and measurement sales and leasing in the U.K. as well as training. The plan is to expand into engineering services and to represent RF related companies in the U.K. as well.

The most important thing for me to emphasize is that we intend to invest in our U.K. activity, not only financially but with expertise. We are relocating staff from Israel to the U.K. so that we can take advantage of the fact that we are managed and run by microwave engineers. So, for instance, when we visit clients to discuss test and measurement solutions, our technical staff are well equipped to find the most cost effective solutions. We realize that there are other test and measurement suppliers in the U.K., but our differentiation is technical knowledge and expertise, which tends to help us win the order.

Is your training centre in Tel Aviv just for the Israeli market?

We have groups from all over the world coming to this training facility. We have large groups flying from Europe and even as far afield as South America for customer training. However, we want U.K. customers to feel that we are a U.K. company and, therefore, we offer to carry out training at their facility, even if it means flying in the trainers from Israel to deliver the courses. Last year we ran two training courses for U.K. companies. With this approach we can make the training more personalized, and it’s important that U.K. companies think of us as a local provider.

When are you going to introduce the RF component and systems element of the company’s offering into the U.K.?

On our roadmap that is scheduled for 2016. However, we have already been approached by two large companies that would like us to represent them in the U.K., but at the moment we are not in a position to move forward any quicker and expect to be able to do so in Q3 and Q4 of 2016.

With regards to RF Incubators, what is your criteria for investing in or funding RF companies?

That is very simple. We have three criteria: first of all, the companies must be operating in the RF, microwave or communications fields, as this is the sector that we understand and have experience in. Second, we have to consider if it is an interesting business proposition and, thirdly, do we know and trust the team we will be working with? Through training, in particular, we are coming into contact with start-up companies on a daily basis, and if they meet the three criteria, we will consider them as possible investments.

Do you see the potential for developing a significant number of RF incubator companies in the U.K.?

Yes I do. We see many interesting companies and technologies in the U.K. The variety of start-ups in the areas of London and Cambridge is amazing, so I believe it is only a matter of time before we make our first investment in a U.K. company.

How has Interlligent been able to forge alliances with U.K. companies so far?

We have discovered that the combination of representing an RF and microwave company in Israel and offering test equipment to this company in the U.K. works really well, and resulted in a number of bilateral agreements. We provide services to companies within the U.K., and we also represent them in Israel. So, we are both the supplier and the client and, therefore, know what each side wants and feel we are able to offer it.

A good case in point is Lime Microsystems, whom we represent in Israel and also supply test and measurement equipment to in the U.K. Having knowledge of a company from both perspectives really makes our bond stronger. Lime was the first, but since we have become associated with a number of other companies that fit the same business model, which works for both them and us.

Is it your aim to establish the complete Interlligent portfolio that exists in Israel in the U.K.?

Yes, that is our intention, but it may take another year or two until we have all our services available in the U.K. Our unique business model is actually working quite well as the variety of complementary services that we offer makes the client’s life much easier.

What is the aim of the annual Interlligent U.K. RF and Microwave seminars?

When we started our test equipment activities in the U.K., we were looking for ways to differentiate our brand from other test equipment companies and to emphasize our technical knowledge and expertise. We thought an annual RF design seminar with an excellent program and top quality lecturers could serve that purpose. Eventually, the seminar turned out to have a life of its own, with people talking about it and anticipating the next one. The event is growing bigger and bigger each year.

Oren Hagai speaks at the Interlligent RF and microwave seminar in Cambridge.
Oren Hagai speaks at the Interlligent RF and microwave seminar in Cambridge.

In your introduction to the last seminar in Cambridge in October, you mentioned supplying Keysight test and measurement equipment. What specifically is Interlligent’s T&M offering?

In Israel, we only supply Keysight equipment, and we are the preferred rental supplier for the company. In the U.K., we do not have any contractual tie-up with a particular manufacturer, but our association with Keysight means we are disposed towards supplying their equipment.

Attendees network at Interlligent's Cambridge seminar.
Attendees network at Interlligent's Cambridge seminar.

What are your plans and ambitions for Interlligent U.K. in the near future?

Within the next year, we intend to hire a local general manager for Interlligent U.K. with significant experience in the RF and microwave market and to focus on increasing our market share in the test equipment rentals and RF training businesses. We also intend to expand our RF design seminar into a two-day event and to include a practical training workshop.

Do you have plans to set up Interlligent businesses in other countries?

Although it is tempting to duplicate our activities in other countries, we have decided to focus on developing our U.K. activity for the next few years. Only after we feel the U.K. business stands on its own will we look at expanding into other countries. I expect this to happen in a matter of three to five years, with our next target being to build our brand in the USA.

For more information, visit Interlligent's website.