Start-Up Nation, an international best seller, answers the question of how Israel, a tiny country, all but bereft of natural resources and in the midst of a constant struggle for physical survival, has nonetheless managed to outstrip every other nation on Earth in terms of hi-tech innovation.
It has been widely reported, to give one telling example, that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’s life was saved after she was shot in Arizona in January because the emergency medical team applied a revolutionary elasticized bandage, developed in Israel, that creates pressure to quickly staunch head wounds.
Israel has the largest number of start-ups per year outside the US of any country. Not per capita. The largest number. Period. We have about 500 a year, and all of Europe has 600-700. Our 7.5 million people compared to that whole continent’s 700 million people.
There’s a misconception that the military plays a central role in Israeli start-ups through various IDF hi-tech units and through military R&D. In fact, the main military influence is cultural. So many Israelis go through the IDF, they learn leadership skills, they learn about teamwork, improvisation, sacrifice for a larger goal – these are things you don’t learn in school or in business. It’s a kind of third stage in life.
When people abroad characterize what’s unique about Israeli innovation, you hear the same two terms over and over: maturity and sense of purpose. And both of those come from the military experience. Sense of purpose comes, too, from the fact that Israel itself is a start-up. We all grew up on the story of the country – the determination and risk involved in building it. Every generation is maintaining that determination and readiness to take risk to further build the country in its own way.
Most everyone here is either an immigrant, the child of immigrants or the grandchild of immigrants. That, by its very nature, took determination; it reflects a willingness to take risk.
There’s just been a study in the US which showed that half the companies in Silicon Valley were started by immigrants.
This is the most pro-immigrant country on Earth. Here we have politicians campaigning for more immigrants. We have an Absorption Ministry! Sure, we complain about how it works. But other countries are coming here to learn from us about how we absorb immigrants.
We’ve turned a potential problem into an asset.
(taken from The Jerusalem Post)