Posted tagged ‘Denmark’

Innovation: Canada takes a lead from Israel

July 19, 2010

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?

Innovation; Israel & Denmark

June 9, 2010

Innovation is one of those much-hyped buzz words. It can be used in the context of motivation. And yes, I have written about them both, often in the context of Israeli society and commerce.

Yes, Israel is good at innovation. “Why?” the question was posed yesterday by a 4-strong delegation from Denmark’s Enterprise and Construction Authority. I met them with leaders from “Israel Business Connection“, which is dedicated to helping new immigrants to integrating into society.

The discussion was fascinating. One key theme to emerge was that you cannot legislate innovation. It has to be part of a culture. A central authority help to provide some of the conditions of that environment. Here, Israel has several fundamentals working in its favour.

Let’s start by returning to the theme of immigration. It is an accepted fact that much of the brains behind Israeli hightech and cleantech are Russian Jews, who abandoned the Kremlin as soon as they could in the 1990s. With or without Hebrew, many have found their way into industry. I come across this almost every week in my company visits.

And yes, Israel is surrounded by less than friendly countries, which forces (or motivates) it to be creative. Military tech is often converted to civilian use, once former soldiers take on regular jobs. An early example were night sights and their application in medical equipment.

The Israeli government sets up incubators, several of whom have since been bought by private companies. These afford young firms the opportunity to concentrate on development, while minimising the burden of admin.

In parallel, there is a system to allow start ups to engage with professional business mentors, subsidised by 75%. In the past year, I have fulfilled this role several times. It is demanding and rewarding. It requires experience to see above and beyond the immediate issues. I challenge the client to focus on what is the core subject and not to be bogged down with trivialities.

The Danish team reported that in terms of start ups, there is no shortage of numbers in their country. The problems revolve around converting this energy in to large companies. And while we were chatting, the Israeli treasury announced measures to tackle that very subject.