Consultant specializing in defence industry
At the moment, Israel is among the most innovative nations of the world. With a population of eight million inhabitants, it dedicates 4.7% of its GDP to R&D&I and it has more companies paying contributions to the Nasdaq than the entire European Union as a whole.
The model of scientific and technological innovation called “Israel’s economic miracle” has been possible thanks to the promotion of several generations of entrepreneurs and researchers, thanks to the synergies created by solid and shared political decisions, the support of institutions and the creation of universities with a long-term view.
“Start-up Nation” responds to the title of a stimulating book written in 2012 in which authors tried to decipher some of the keys that explain the entrepreneurial spirit and the success achieved by Israel in the implementation of an economic model with a technological basis. Among the factors pointed out, it is worth mentioning the influence of the culture in the entrepreneurial spirit, its geostrategic location, the model of technological transfer university-enterprise and the role of education and immigration as a source or richness and innovation. The book also mentions risks and defects. Two examples of the driving force of its innovation were the search for resources for the agricultural sector and the need of having its own resources to guarantee the legitimate defence, in bordes marked by instability and conflicts.
Israel’s key has been the creation of an ecosystem favourable to the development of knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship. This ecosystem offers three lessons. Firstly, that it is necessary to create a culture that does not penalize failure, that promotes the understanding of risk and that, having done all that is possible, bad news turn into an incentive. Secondly, that the university must bet on high quality, as well as the associated scientific centres and those of technological innovation, without forgetting about the importance of humanities, which prepare to think correctly.
Finally, financing, but as long as it is specialized, paying attention to its specific risks. In this sense, the initiatives type “incubator” must be directed towards creating a system to support efficient entrepreneurship and innovation, with incentives and in continuous movement. Public-private cooperation must go in the same direction and have a global view, not a local one. Fields such as that of security and defence, especially in aeronautics and C4ISR, are paradigmatic.
Israel’s case is, in conclusion, a challenge for those interested in knowing the factors influencing the success or the failure of a model of economic and technological development.