Israel is a garden of inventiveness and Israelis have a strong tradition of contributing to technology and life sciences. Breathing the innovation when I lived there, I was privileged to test PrimeSense’s 3D camera, help bring Notal Vision’s tool to gauge macular degeneration to the United States, deliver a turn-key VoIP network in Nigeria and Zambia on behalf of VocalTec, license ecommerce and security software to dozens of Fortune 100 companies, watch knee surgery with miraculous tissue-repairing Regentis hydrogel, play with a gear box created from an Objet (now Stratasys) 3D printer, and negotiate sponsored research, patent licenses and clinical trials on behalf of emerging pharmaceutical companies.
Figuring out what gives rise to the “start-up nation” character, with wildly disproportionate foreign direct investment and numbers of translated books, cited academics, filed patents, Nasdaq companies, successful exits, and tuneful children’s songs, is a pervasive new-age question. Many answers have been floated, including its world-class research institutions, the very first technology transfer offices for commercialization of academic R&D, raw skills honed in one of the best-trained and most-sophisticated militaries, a culture of questioning, and a flood of ex-Soviet engineering talent over three decades. Naturally one can’t discount that there are real issues to be addressed too. Israelis have done it — from discerning security risks through synthesis of big data to making the desert bloom with fruit, vegetables, fish, and minerals.
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