Dror Bin, CEO at Israel Innovation Authority
For Israel, a country that is geographically small, remote from major global markets and with almost no natural resources, innovation has become the most valuable national asset, crucial to its economic prosperity.
To advance its ingrained entrepreneurial spirit, Israel established a unique ecosystem of innovation, where Government provides regulatory measures to strengthen infrastructure for innovation and prompts private sector to invest in innovation through various incentives. This unique public-private partnership enables both sectors to achieve the prosperity they never could have gained separately.
The maturation of the high-tech sector in the last decade, which is in part a result of this consistent government policy, has elevated Israeli startups to the premier league of global high-tech investments. During the last decade, the dramatic increase in growth investments and the scope of new stock issues at the beginning of this decade resulted in an Israeli high-tech boom, with enormous benefits to the nation, to Israeli entrepreneurship, and to local and global investors.
True innovation comes with inherent high risk and potential market failures. By investing in those risky or early-stage areas, the government through the Israel Innovation Authority provides the required infrastructure and support to stimulate and ensure the innovation ecosystem thrives. It also ensures that private sector investors have room to participate, thus encouraging the invention of disruptive technologies that will come to reshape our future.
In this unique ecosystem, Israel Innovation Authority has a double role. The first is to invest in research and development of technologically innovative and ground-breaking products via an annual investment of some NIS 2 billion in about 1,600 innovative projects submitted by entrepreneurs, startups, and companies.
The second is to monitor and analyze the dynamic changes taking place throughout the innovation ecosystems both in Israel and abroad and take proactive measures in ensuring we fulfill our ultimate mission to strengthen this ecosystem and promote Israeli innovation as leverage for inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
In the past couple of years, following the outbreak of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Israeli innovation ecosystem had to re-think the course of its operation and make the necessary adjustments to meet the changing demands and circumstances of this new reality. Faced with this adversity, the Israeli high-tech demonstrated qualities such as agility, multidisciplinary approach, and out-of-the-box thinking, allowing many high-tech companies and startups to adjust their technologies, developments and products to meet the needs presented by the new global reality.
The same can be said for the Israel Innovation Authority's toolset that had to be adjusted to provide tech companies the necessary financial runway not only to survive but also to thrive. Tasked with a mission to help prepare for future technological trends while seeking to understand where to invest now, in order to be ready for technology advancements in 5, 10 and 20 years ahead, the Authority constantly examines areas where Israel has a relative advantage and that can present growth potential and high returns to the economy. In recent years, the Authority identified three such technological platforms: Bio-Convergence, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Quantum Computing and is already engaged in the creation of necessary infrastructure that will help these technologies realize their potential and become Israel's next growth engines.
Bio-Convergence fuses life sciences with different technologies from mathematics, engineering, and the physical and computational sciences. The Corona pandemic only reinforced the essential role of this new field as having potential to bring new and advanced tools to deal with the pandemic and well beyond.
We are now standing at the beginning of a new era characterized by a technological revolution that was triggered by two trends: sensors, communication, and the ability to transfer and process large amounts of data at a low cost as well as the development of artificial intelligence technologies that enable prediction and production of quality insights in almost each and every field. We foresee that AI will likely be as important as the invention of electricity, as it will create the infrastructure to support innovative future technologies. Countries that will harness it to their advantage will flourish. Those that will fail to do so will lag behind. We believe Israel to be the engine that can bring technological innovations that will shape modern lives. We have the potential to be a leading nation in these exciting new technologies and it is our collective mission to rise up to this challenge.
To this end, the Authority uses a variety of tools and financing platforms to maintain and even strengthen Israel's technology leadership and entrepreneurial culture. We implement programs designed to bring minority and under-represented populations into the high-tech sector in order to expand its inherent advantages and enhance its financial impact on the Israeli market as a whole. In doing so, we promote innovative regulation and support production and export, create employment opportunities and are key in maintaining Israel's position at the forefront of global innovation.
Dror Bin is the CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority, an independent
government agency that operates to nurture and develop the Israeli
innovation ecosystem, while enabling progressive governmental policy,
creating vital infrastructures and making direct investments in the industry.