Original Blog By Erin Kincade, Innovation Coordinator with The Disruption Lab
Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Israel with my MBA cohort from Lipscomb. The purpose of this trip was to get a better insight into how other countries conduct business, as well as see some of the history that is there. With Israel being one of the startup capitals of the world, our program directors thought it would be a perfect place for us to visit and learn from. Start-up Nation, by Dan Senor and Saul Singer, describes Israel’s rise to innovation on the global scale and why they are now considered as one of the startup capitals of the world. They are rated 5th worldwide in Bloomberg’s Innovation Index.
We met with several different companies while we were there, but I think one of the most interest things I learned on this trip was, in Israel, they have the opportunity to get government funding for their startup projects. We had a meeting with Jonathan Cohen, the North American Project Manager for Israel Innovation Authority. This organization has been around since the early 60’s; however, they were originally known as the Office of Chief Scientists. They became the Innovation Authority around three years ago and now their mission is to advance innovation as a leverage for sustainable and inclusive growth. They receive a budget of $500 million from the government, which comes from taxes taken by the Ministry of Economy. They then use this money to try to enable the market instead of leading it, that way it is not biased towards what the government may want. The different startup organizations that apply must go through a very rigorous process to get approved for the grant. Israel Innovation Authority has around 200 professional evaluators from different, very specific fields who help evaluate the startups to see if they qualify for funding. In addition, they also have over 70 different agreements with roughly 70 different countries around the world. This allows them to partner their startups with organizations around the world and begin innovating and disrupting a wide variety of industries.
The whole concept of having government funding towards innovative projects was something extremely fascinating to me because in the U.S. we do not have anything like this. The only way you can begin a startup organization here is to have your own money or know someone who does have money. I think it’s great that they have that much passion about creating something better for themselves and for others.
Israel is a very small country, about the size of New Jersey, and they are almost constantly at war. Because of this, they saw it as a necessity to be constantly evolving and adapting to the environment around them. We spoke with several people there who told us that they do not see failing in the same way we do. It is not perceived as much of a risk to them to invest time and money into a new product or idea. Some even told us that it would not be a big loss if they did fail as long as they continued to learn because they believe this a vital way to improve quality of life. The cost of living there is high, and they are running out of room in this small war-torn country. There were even those who told us that they see innovation and a new idea as their only way to make it out and into the world.
On top of all the businesses we spoke to, we also toured several cultural sights. Jerusalem, Capernaum, Tabgah, Masada, The Dead Sea, and The Sea of Galilee just to name a few. We saw such an exponential amount of culture and history, it is almost impossible to keep up with it all. So much of their business is centered around tourism and capitalizing on the amount of people who just want a chance to be close to the Holy Land.
During the short time that we were there, we were only able to get a glimpse as to how different things can be in another country. But, it was truly an eye-opening experience. To anyone who has never been, I highly recommend adding it to your list of places to go. It was my first trip out of the country, but it will not be the last. There is so much that we can learn from other countries. I believe it is important to have an open mind and see what else is out there.
Erin Kincade is an MBA candidate at Lipscomb University. She has been the Innovation Coordinator with The Disruption Lab since August of 2018 and has enjoyed expanding her innovation ecosystem. She will graduate in May and looks forward to what the world has in store.