Explaining Israel’s Start-Up Nation Story

May 26, 2017

The small country packs more than its size in technology,  innovation and entrepreneurship.

The small country packs more than its size in technology,  innovation and entrepreneurship

Israel, a nation of about 8 million, is a world leader in technology and the number of start-ups attempted yearly. This phenomena has certainly piqued the interest of many.

Just a look at the numbers is enough to get anyone’s attention: There are around 1,000 new companies formed every year in Israel; 70 venture capital funds are active in the tiny nation, and Israel exports about $18.4billion annually in software and internet-related products. What’s more? Israel has more companies listed in U.S. securities exchanges than any other country except for America and China, it is a leader in cyber security, and Israel has more scientists and entrepreneurs per capita than any other nation, which has made it a choice destination for research and development (R&D) for many of the world’s leading brands who want to tap into Israel’s large pool of experts.

It is for this reason that Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business has designed “Innovation in Israel and Beyond,” a one-week exclusive program offered in partnership with other leading American and Israeli institutions. The program allows entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs to gain insight into what factors contribute to Israel’s success in technology and their drive to start enterprises. The program also allows students to go beyond learning essential tools as it offers a chance to network with industry leaders.

As a prelude to the program, several American and Israeli academics and entrepreneurs explored and explained this subject at the recent CKGSB knowledge Series “Israel’s Start-up Nation” held at the school’s office in New York City.

“The story of Israel being a leader in start-ups is a story of its people,” said Maria Blekher.

Dr. Blekher, an Israeli professor who is the Director of the MS program at Yeshiva University’s Katz School of Graduate and Professional Studies, explained that Israel’s culture, environment and challenges have cultivated a national spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Israeli entrepreneurial spirit, she said, has been nourished by a culture that promotes challenging the norms and thinking ‘outside the box,’ and is also a result of the the nation’s survival and success in the face of challenges and lack of natural resources. The collective need to rely on their own innovation and labor has helped to make individuals self-reliant, confident, and, most importantly, not to fear setbacks and failures.

“In Israel, failure is a good thing; because Israelis see it as a chance to reflect, to learn from the failure and turn it into success,” Ms. Blekher said.

So strong is the Israeli collective mindset for entrepreneurship and innovation that it is said in Israel “if you are 20 and you haven’t failed yet, you haven’t tried,” said another speaker, Evan Renov, Partner at Beechwood Ventures, which concentrates on life sciences and high-tech investments.

Other speakers at Israel’s Start-Up Nation Knowledge Series were Michael Strauss, Associate Dean of Sy Syms School of Business of Yeshiva University; Dr. Paul Russo, Vice Provost and Dean at the Katz School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Yeshiva University; Val Myteberi, Assistant Dean at Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Mary Wadsworth Darby, Chief Representative of CKGSB-Americas, said: “As China expands its global engagement, there’s greater interest from our stakeholders to learn about the world and study success stories. We are thankful to our prestigious speakers who shared and explained to our members the fundamentals that contribute to Israel’s leading position in technology and entrepreneurship. The Innovation in Israel and Beyond program will greatly expand on what was discussed at this event.”

Innovation in Israel and Beyond offers an exclusive opportunity to visit important centers of technology, and the chance to meet, network and learn from scientists, innovators, investors and venture capitalists across Israel. CKGSB designed the program in partnership with Yeshiva University’s Katz School, Zvi Meitar Institute for Legal Implications of Emerging Technologies, and IDC Herzliya.

Alan Chen, Director of CKGSB-Americas, said: “This program has been designed to offer our students the chance to learn from the doers directly the methods and qualities that made them successful.  Innovation in Israel and Beyond also offers a chance to expand and build lasting global network of successful venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and inventors.”

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