Israeli high tech dream – time to wake up?

“Obviously we will set up a Facebook (marketing) operation in Israel.” Thus says their VP Advertising exec, David Fischer, in an interview with the Hebrew paper “The Marker”. And the company will join other megas like Siemens, Microsoft and Intel with significant operations in the Holyland.

Great news indeed, but is it merely covering up a more disturbing trend. Is the Israeli high tech boom, which has been running for nearly 20 years, reaching the end of its path?

The success of the recent decade, despite wars and recessions, has been staggering. GDP has risen over 3% per annum on average. Using OECD, Israel invests over 4.0% of its income in new industry. The country continues to rank amongst world leaders in patent generation. Jerusalem has become a centre for the solar technology. Etc, etc, etc.

And yet, something is not quite right. There are numerous reports that overall funding of new investments has not picked up since the credit crisis. A new index for biomed shares has proved to be a disappointment – although admittedly it was launched in a difficult period for stocks globally.

Michael Eisenberg is a leading local commentator. In the first of a 2-part article, he observes that “the world of technology is rapidly changing around us and we are not doing enough to address the challenges.”  Eisenberg’s specific complaint refers to human resources – too many start ups chasing too few people, many of whom are trained in the wrong disciplines such as dot-net.

Eisenberg used the example of Conduit. It is no secret that this Rehovot based company has sales that have gone viral, rapidly . And yet, despite great benefits for employees, Eisenberg writes how they are finding it difficult to recruit the correct talent.

Eisenberg’s key theme of the wrong resources in wrong areas was rammed home to me yesterday. I attended an innovation seminar, organised by various public bodies in Jerusalem. For example, Bioline was there, again stressing the message that the capital city has much to offer towards the growth of the country.

The lead talk was given by a senior figure from the Office of the Chief Scientist. One of his slides proudly showed how despite the recession, his team has increased investment in new projects. And as he continued his explanation, revealing the breakdown between sectors such as telecoms, life sciences and others, somebody whispered quietly “where is the figure for cleantech projects”?

Where indeed? This new industry was not on the chart. That says something, and sends out a message unease.

The high tech and communications industrial revolution has been rapid. Globalisation is the buzz theme. Has Israel become too confident and not realised that the world’s innovative streak is now rushing ahead, without her up front?

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3 Comments on “Israeli high tech dream – time to wake up?”

  1. Wonderful site and theme, would really like to see a bit more content though!
    Great post all around, added your XML feed! Love this theme, too!

  2. […] Afternoon Tea In Jerusalem What you want to know about Israeli commercial life and society « Israeli high tech dream – time to wake up? […]

  3. […] Canada takes a lead from Israel Israeli high tech may be wondering about its next steps. However, the charge towards innovation is still on. Only […]

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