Innovation: 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 yesterday, I met a start up medical device company that has incorporated the letter “D” in its name, which stands for “destructive tech”.

I have written how Denmark is looking at the Israel model to becoming a successful innovative society. Yesterday, I went to a fascinating evening, where a new Canadian commercial approach was presented.

The discussion was led by Mr Sheldon Potter from Fogler, Rubinoff LLP and by former Israeli ambassador to Canada and now President of the Israel Canada Chamber of Commerce, Mr Alan Baker. Now Canada is an economic powerhouse. Toronto hosts the world’s 8th largest stock market. The country boosts a comfy life style.

As Potter observed, Canada has become “innovation hungry”, and there is little infrastructure to support the desire for change. And why look to Israel? In Canada, university research papers used to stay on the shelves. In Israel, they are commercialised.

In the past few days, the Canadian media has picked up on the theme of how poor innovation results in low productivity. For a country trying to emerge from the shadow of its American neighbour, that is bad news. Ontario Premier, Dalton, McGuinty, has been amongst the most open in calling for a change in economic direction.

And here’s the connection to Israel. McGuinty recently led a strong delegation to the Holy Land to consider joint ventures in the health sector. The states of Manitoba and Quebec have fielded similar task forces. There are discussions to set up Canadianincubators, as well as an office of the chief scientist, just as Israel did many years back.

And as for cooperation between the two countries, there are many stories to tell. An Israeli solar panel company has reached a technology agreement with a large manufacturer of spare parts for cars. And in a few months, a major delegation from the retail sector will be seeking partnerships with innovative Israeli manufacturers.

If Denmark and Canada can learn from Israel, who wants to be the next economy to benefit?

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