As a partner in OurCrowd, an equity crowdfunding site for accredited investors in Israeli startups and based in Israel, I get to meet frequently with delegations from other countries. These business types typically visit Israel for 1 purpose only: to learn how Israel has become a nation of startups and how they can return to their home countries and emulate the success we’re enjoying here.
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And of course, like everything else in this part of the world, there’s no right answer to this question. How Israel became Israel is a complicated story.
The truth is that to become the #2 startup ecosystem in the world after Silicon Valley, it’s taken a complicated calculus of educational, societal, and entrepreneurial influences to make Israel the economy it is.
Partnering up internationally
One thing that can’t be underestimated is the young country’s experience and roots in creating international partnerships — cooperation that share and learn from the best Israel and the world can provide to help collaborate and accelerate progress internationally.
Did you know that in Massachusetts alone, Israeli companies doing business there have generated over $6.2 billion in 2013 and employ 6700 people in the state? Thats’s according to a new study by the New England – Israel Business Council. That’s almost 3x the revenue these firms were generating just 3 years ago, according to David Goodtree, the local consultant who authored the study (and an OurCrowd investor).
“It’s the new markets that will provide the turbocharge” — David Goodtree, author of the study
He’s referring to the interest and growth in emerging sectors such as nanotechnology, robotics, and 3-D printing coming from collaboration between Israeli and global scientists, entrepreneurs and business partners.
Energy joint ventures
For those interested in the global energy market, the old joke goes that Moses took a wrong turn bringing the Israelites to Israel. Israel has been scrappy economically in part because the country lacked its own natural resources. Instead , the young country has always focused on human resources to address its natural resources problem.
All that has changed over the past few years. In 2010, Israel struck gas — lots of it — and its find of natural reserves is reshaping economic and political policy in the region. Investors in Israel’s natural resources industry know that to fully extract value, Israel’s needed to partner with many companies, including US-based Noble Energy (NYSE: NBL). It appears Israel has enough natural resources to become a net exporter — not only of ingenuity, this time, but also of a real commodity.
And just Friday, the US Senate signed a bipartisan US-Israel energy bill that would foster collaboration on developing resources such as natural gas and alternative fuels, on the academic, business and governmental level — exactly the type of partnerships I’m describing that have revved Israel’s economic engine.
The high-end of Israel’s academic world has shined brightly over the past few decades, winning numerous Nobels and contributing to the advancement of science globally. While science has flourished, Israel has a lot to learn from global educational institutions. One interesting development to watch is Cornell University’s partnership with Israel’s Technion (considered the M.I.T. of Israel).
With the help of NYC’s outgoing Mayor Bloomberg and dubbed Cornell NYC Tech, Cornell has launched a 2 year MA degree in connective media in conjunction with the Technion. Graduates will receive degrees from both prestigious institutions (not unlike the Kellogg School of Management’s program with Israel’s Tel Aviv University).
The program, like others of its kind, was developed to address the need for tech talent in New York City as the City’s financial and media world evolve along with the technology that shapes them. The future campus, to be set on Roosevelt Island, is no less ambitious.
Startup Nation –> Scaleup Nation –> Partner-up Nation
A recent study showed that Israel is still trending up as the U.S.’s #3 innovation partner, right behind Switzerland and Canada. So, as Israel, the Startup Nation, grows into its big-boy, Scale-up Nation shoes, other nations looking for its secret sauce can look directly to its partnering ability for guidance. Israel’s technology and startup ecosystem have both benefited from and created global partnerships that work to support growth in Israeli ingenuity on a global scale.
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