Israel’s hightech gimmick – everybody wants a piece

Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, was asked yesterday afternoon in Tel Aviv if Israel is a second Silicon Valley. He responded that you cannot replicate the valley, “but the second hottest place for start ups is Tel Aviv….In Israel there is an incredible amount of innovation….”

Ballmer’s visit has been posted all over the local press. He brought Xbox 360 to Israel. He launched a strategic partnership with the government. Ballmer stressed that Israel has “the highest number of Microsoft workers per capita of any place on earth.” And this videolink shows, Microsoft’s r&d centre in Israel is no stranger to entrepreneurship and new technologies, which end up on the global markets.

Ballmer issued a plethora of positive quotes about Israel, which were probably posted straight to twitter. And it is not just that Siemens, IBM, Intel et al also have a large tech presence in Israel.  By the way, last week EMC announced that it did not want to be left out of the picture.

The point is that at any given month, you will discover several Israeli start ups that have just raised more money for some new whizz software or hardware. To take some of this week’s findings, digital marketing software developer Kenshoo Ltd. has secured $12 million. And mobile internet company Saguna Networks Ltd. has raised $3 million in a financing round led by an international communications equipment supplier.

Back in the mid 1980s, Israel began to abandon an economy based on tariffs and the public sector. While elements of centralisation remain, there is no doubt that the Holy Land has witnessed a modern day commercial miracle. The proof of this is by judging how many other countries are now trying to copy the same act.

Portugal has signed a cooperation agreement with Jerusalem over Cleantech. The President of Bulgaria was in Israel last month to set up the groundwork for a similar arrangement.  The Foreign Ministry has launched a joint project with the China Association for Science and Technology. And the UK’s ambassador in Tel Aviv has already promoted several hub initiatives during his stay. In fact one of my clients has been invited to a networking invent tomorrow, hosted by the Brisih embassy.

Does the hightech gimmick work? Israel is set to achieve growth in 2012 and again in 2013 of around 3%. Not many in the OECD can claim such a statistic.

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