History of Independence
Israel’s 75th year after independence offers an opportunity to map its journey to becoming a ‘Startup Nation. Their journey ranges from the signing of the ‘Declaration of Independence of Israel’ to becoming a budding center for innovation and technology. Their technological growth in cyber security, telecommunication connectivity, etc. has ultimately culminated in making Israel a ‘Startup Nation’. Over the last 75 years, they have built a reputation for themselves with their sheer ability to seek innovative solutions and efficient policy implementation. They have worked across sectors such as Agri-tech, Climate-Tech, water, defense, Aerospace industry, etc. From the first non-Latin country to join OECD in
2010, and to eventually gain the ranks among the top 3rd largest country in the world they have progressed in the field of science and technology. They have the largest entrepreneur specifically the highest women entrepreneurs in the world. At this Diamond anniversary of Israel’s independence, the growth of different sectors can be celebrated through the milestones they achieved while increasing investment in technology and innovation, through investment in Human Capital. For achieving this, the Israeli government has made continuous efforts to pave the way from a desert economy to Silicon Valley. In this, the high-tech industry has been a key component in bringing economic prosperity.
Investment in Innovation:
Israel’s investment in innovation and technology especially with government support in R&D is the starting point. Though these investment started with the establishment of 1870’s ‘Agri-Research Institute’ and ‘The Technicon – Israel Institute of Technology in 1924. It eventually led to the establishment of a first-generation Information &Technology sector in early 1970. In as 1980s, the government established ‘Lavi’ an Israel-designed military jet, which led to the establishment of numerous engineers, and marked a breakthrough in aviation, aerodynamics, computers, and electronics in the commercial market.
Benefiting from Human Capital:
In the 1970s-1980s their government adopted a more liberalized approach that reduced government intervention and called for deregulation, privatization, and liberalization, which significantly increased FDI in the country. In the 90s Israel successfully absorbed skilled immigrants which included engineers, and scientists, from the former USSR. This provided the necessary human capital that the country required.
These efforts accompanied by policy support were extended to augment to reinforce the importance of research and development. It realized the importance of advancing higher education, innovation, and research, to become a tech powerhouse.
The venture capitalist firm through the ‘Yozma’ program, 1993, lent support to venture capitalist firms, which eventually doubled their growth. The program has a key role in boosting Israel’s startup economy by investing in companies. These policies, helped Israel attract foreign investment and developed private-public partnerships. They initially began with the transfer of technology from academia to industry, this encouraged the influx of engineers and talent from the former Soviet Union. Which in turn brought a shift from MNC to R&D for investment in tech independence for the country.
Israel expanded links in the industry to scientists, and engineers have made tremendous growth by investing in incubators. Government support has an active role to play in making their goals a reality. For instance, in Israel, the government has provided initial investment in an early project for, Venture capitalists. In recent times the government has lent its continuous support to developing R&D centers and investing. Israel has set up many startups in areas ranging from food, energy, agriculture, water, finance, health, security, aviation, etc. Today, the tech industry has become the heartbeat of its economy, and the high-tech sector in Israel is called ‘Silicon Wadi’ for being one of the most productive tech clusters in the world.
Technology and Innovation:
Israel is an example of a country that has created innovation out of Necessity. During the 75 years since its Independence Israel’s technologies and innovation have been marked by innovating some of the landmark products such as ‘Windows NT’ operating system. It has grown to become a major hub as it hosts more than 300 high-tech companies. On its 75th year of Independence, it marks a period of celebration in the field of innovation and technology in pioneering key technologies such as the Solar Heater developed by an Israeli scientist, in 1955, when solar energy was just a hypothetical idea. It gained international prominence for introducing the innovation of geothermal energy. It’s a remarkable contribution by Dr. Harry Zvi Tabor. He is also known as the father of Solar Energy for introducing technology that produces hot water for households. Some major inventions such as Israel’s 1997 ‘Copaxone’ technology came ahead of its time, providing treatment for multiple sclerosis.
Israel has gained excellence in various sectors however, two key contributing sectors in Innovation and technologies are:
- Agriculture: The scientific infrastructure has worked on innovation and technology in aquaculture, agriculture, and zero-discharge desalination farming. Their initial success with drip irrigation has now made them the world’s leading producer in the field. They have now progressed towards building automated tissue culture, disease-resistant seeds, biological fertilizers, and bio-pest control.
- Technology: Some of the niche technologies launched by Israel include desalination plants that safeguard 60 percent of the domestic water needs. To safeguard the region’s water needs, they have developed, ‘Pillcam’ that can help in the diagnosis of gastronomical issues. In cars ‘Mobileye’ launched in 1999 for automobiles in cars is useful in providing early warning to cars before an accident.
- In 2012, Tel Aviv was recognized as the second-best place for tech startups. In addition to this, it is noted for providing an innovative solution such as a ‘short-range defense’ system that holds 90 percent success rate. It retains the ranks among high-tech companies for being among the top-performing countries in cyber security products. As a 21st member of the European Nuclear Center (CERN), it is a top-rank holder in Stem–Cell Technologies that can potentially cure neurodegenerative diseases.
- In 2017, their active R&D centers expanded to around 300 companies including Google, Intel, Appel, etc. In 2019, Israel made progress in gaining recognition among the top-performing state to introduce technologies such as 3D-printed hearts with blood vessels.
- IT and associated sectors: The IT sector has seen a boom with the involvement of the high-tech computer software industry. This is to protect the personal data, among the corporates. It is noted to be one of the best places for setting up a high-tech industry.
- With the recent development in technology and innovation in Israel, IAI has represented itself at Dubai Airshow, in 2021, and at Bahrain Airshow in 2022. Technology, Satellites such as The Ofek-13, and satellites have been a major contribution to the defense establishment. Its function is to help identify the weather condition.
- It’s known for setting up the first microprocessor in a design center outside of the USA that came to dominate the desktop computer. In recent times, the newly formed collaboration such as INDEX and NAVDEX a joint maritime demonstration showcased their innovation through vessels with sensors, sonar, and imagining systems into a unified command system.