If I have to describe my ‘Young Indian Innovation Delegation Trip to Israel’ in three words, it would be enchanting, educating and endearing.
To begin with, the welcome note by Mr. Ran Natazon at Wework set the tone for the coming days. The Impact Lab center at WeWork, where software and hardware tech geniuses meet to collaborate, focused on creating physical products across AI, Robotics, IoT, and Electronics. Our next stop for the day was at Startup Nation Central, a hub for Israeli entrepreneurs, where we learned most Israeli entrepreneurs are over 30 years plus, have a university degree, have experience work for large organizations and has found at least one company. We met with entrepreneurs developing products across areas of Agri-tech, Cyber Security, Digital health, Fintech and the list could go on. Post a small tour of the beautiful Jafa City, the day ended over scrumptious vegan dinner and a learning conversation with Tal Carlton, accelerator guru, TEDx Speaker, Ecosystem Builder and an International keynote speaker from Israel.
Our second day in Israel was planned with two important visits in Haifa City. One was to the Mati Haifa and second to The Technion. Mati Haifa is an SME development center that is committed to creating employment and assisting startups to establish and promote their ventures. Headed by key business leaders of the Haifa community, Mati Haifa is a non–profit organization. The Israel Institute of Technology ‘Technion’ is consistently ranked amongst the world’s top science and technology research universities. With 18 academic departments, Technion graduates drive Israel’s High-Tech Economy and make a majority of the country’s scientist and engineers. These two places gave us a great insight as to how Israel entrepreneurs across segments are working to build innovative products and services for the future.
The following day was designed for a Cybertech conference at the TLV Convention Centre at Tel Aviv followed by a small meeting with startups over dinner arranged by my good friend Alina Shkolniov, the Global iCoach program manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Our fourth day was at Jerusalem, where we visited the Israel Innovation Authority, an independent public entity that operates with the moto of benefiting the Israel Innovation ecosystem and strengthening Israel economy. Our meeting with Avi Luvton, Executive Director – Asia Pacific and Latin America at MATIMOP (The Israel Industry Centre for R&D), gave us an insight on how Israel Innovation Authority works and also about MOU between Israel and our country focusing on startups. It was quite interesting to know that learn that Israel has only 20% of the incubators in Israel are supported by the government and rest are all private. All accelerators have to put 15% of the required funds in their startup and the remaining 85% will be provided by the government in the form of a loan without interest. If the startup becomes successful then they have to repay with interest.
The mass challenge is an amazing concept. This no equity and not for profit is one of the most startup-friendly accelerators that awards up to $ 2 million cash prizes to help high impact startups succeed. It was a great learning to understand how startups are been supported and provided all possible growth avenues to succeed. The latter part of the day was spent with a guided tool to the old city of Jerusalem with the highlight of visiting The Wall, place of Jesus Christ incarnation and learning and being part of the history.
The following day, last day of our visit to Israel, was one of the most interesting spent at the crowded summit with over 7000 participants and representatives of numerous countries. It was an experience to witness this amount of startups under one roof discussing every possible innovation possible. Post this event, followed by shopping, our day concluded with a visit to Tech Sukh 2018, an event highlighting Canadian and Israeli Entrepreneurs and startups.
Even our return journey was planned for more learnings. Our 7-hour stopover Addis Ababa Bole airport came with a city tour, visit the national museum and shopping. Overall, if I had to conclude the Israel experience, the learnings for the entrepreneurs start at the institutional level with vertically focused incubators at every university, access to laboratories & technology.
Even the Israel startups and incubators are looking at Indian markets for fund opportunities from Indian Venture Capitalists. Also, there is a huge scope for tie-ups between Israeli and Indian startup working on the similar idea.
Now, eagerly looking forward to my next visit.