I have heard many stories about the success of Israel in military and technology. From the Bible and the suffering of Israel people in holocaust, I also knew that they were very smart people but had experienced many years of hardship and suppression.
Today, Israel often appears in the news related to startups and technological innovations. In 2009, Dan Senor and Saul Singer published a book called Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle. They attempt to explain how Israel, a 60-year-old nation with a population of 7.1 million, was able to reach such economic growth that “at the start of 2009, some 63 Israeli companies were listed on the NASDAQ, more than those of any other foreign country.
The authors have identified two key factors to explain the success of Israel:
First, it is the unique culture of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Military service is mandatory for all young Israelis. Unlike the army culture in many countries, IDF has a relatively un-hierarchical environment where creativity and intelligence are highly valued. As IDF soldiers, they “are expected to have minimal guidance from the top. They need to improvise, even if this means breaking some rules”. Young people also have an opportunities to develop a wide array of skills and contacts.
Second, Israel is a nation of immigrants, who are by nature risk takers and use to start everything from scratch. They also bring along their knowledge and expertise from different parts of the world. A very important contribution to technological innovation are the scientists and engineers from ex-Soviet Union.
I joined a study trip to Israel in March this year. Organized by the Hong Kong Productivity Council and supported by the Hong Kong Medical and Healthcare Devices Industries Association, the key event was the MedinIsrael 2017. Held in the Tel Aviv Conference Center, it was an international exhibition where thousands of international visitors came to Israel to meet with technology companies and startups, which will showcase their latest inventions in medical devices and health care technologies.