Israel has earned the nickname Start-Up Nation, with thousands of active start-up companies and a thriving economy defined by technology and innovation.
With a growing population of more than 9 million people within a small area, Israel has the highest concentration of startups per capita in the world. There is one startup for every 1,400 people – roughly one new business venture every 3.5 square kilometers.
In fact, Time Magazine just named six Israeli-made innovations among its annual list of 100 Best Inventions of 2020 that are "making the world better, smarter and even a bit more fun." The list was published last month.
Steve Gray is the program director for InnovatioNation Tours, which provides educational tours for students and business professionals.
“One out of every 10 employed Israelis is working in the high-tech industry,” said Gray who left his job in venture capital to join InnovatioNation over a decade ago because he wanted to give tourists a unique insider’s view of Israel as a vibrant, visionary society – one that uses innovation to change the world for the better, a concept referred to as tikkun olam.
According to Gray, Israel's success in high-tech innovation can be attributed in part to the technology units of the military, IDF (Israeli Defense Forces).The IDF enlists soldiers from all walks of life and provides potential entrepreneurs with an opportunity to use advanced technologies and the expertise of cybersecurity experts. As a result, one-fifth of the world’s 2,200 cybersecurity companies can be found in Israel.
Gray explains that the IDF gives soldiers a chance to exert responsibility in a relatively un-hierarchical environment, where creativity and intelligence are highly valued.
“They are given leadership roles, given a budget to manage and to make decisions in real life and death matters. As a result, the soldiers who come out of the IDF understand teamwork and are mission focused. They know how to plan and execute,” he said.
In addition to the dynamic IDF tech culture, Israel receives young immigrants from all over the world. At a mere 72 years old, modern Israel has more IPOs (Initial Public Offering) than any other country.
"Immigrants are risk-takers and most entrepreneurial," Gray explained. "They challenge the status quo and create an environment conducive to innovation."
The Israeli mindset of empowerment also proves to be crucial to innovation. Failure is always an acceptable outcome so long as one learns from the experience.
Innovation is actively encouraged in Israel by investment in R&D infrastructure. The government spends 4% of its gross national product in research and development, helping entrepreneurs identify new trends early on and allowing Israel to maintain its position at the forefront of global innovation.
Calev Myers, a practicing lawyer in Israel, is founder and chairman of ARISE, a U.S. registered 501 (c)(3) dedicated to connecting value-driven businesspeople to the economy of Israel.
"Under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," said Myers, "the government of Israel has made some paramount decisions over the past few decades by privatizing Israeli markets and investing more tax funds per capital in R&D than any other country, unleashing Israel's dormant potential for innovation."
Last month in his online presentation at the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast, Gray highlighted two Israeli companies (Orcam and Vocalis Health) both responsible for developing revolutionary, life-giving innovations to improve the quality of life for its clients worldwide.
Orcam, founded by the company Mobileye, is a voice-activated device for the blind or visually impaired that attaches to any pair of eyeglasses. It instantly reads text from a book, smartphone screen or any other surface. In addition, it recognizes faces and objects, describing to the user what they are unable to see. In effect, Orcam products give the user the potential to live a more fulfilling, independent life.
Vocalis Health is a pioneer of voice-enabled AI technology which using vocal biomarkers for personalized healthcare screening, triage and more. This technology brings disease identification to the mass market. The technology monitors voice patterns to identify potential disease, for example, coronary disease and Parkinson's disease. Currently, Vocalis Health is developing a technology to identify voice markers to diagnose COVID-19.
Orcam and Vocalis Health innovative products offer hope and encouragement for the future.
In so doing, these revolutionary Israeli companies are bringing light to the world.