Wednesday, September 11, 2019

An Introduction to the Start-Up Nation's Innovation Ecosystem

Innovation Journey kicked off to a great start in Tel Aviv on September 10, 2019. We started the day with Assaf Luxembourg who gave an energetic introduction to Israel, the Start-Up Nation. We learned about the many facets of the country and its culture, going beyond popular media portrayals. It is such a diverse country--in terms of demographics, geography, industries, and more--that there is plenty to learn anywhere you look. For the purposes of our trip, we are focusing on the business sector, specifically as it relates to innovation.

Kelby Kupersmid led an Innovation Leadership workshop to dig deeper into why innovation is so important, what it means in today's business environment, and what the different types of innovation are. This gave us a new perspective through which to analyze and understand innovation throughout our program. We followed with a visit to the beautiful ToHa building, designed by renowned architect Ron Arad. It is WeWork's largest building in Israel and a striking addition to the Tel Aviv skyline, resembling an iceberg.

We then met with Blue White Robotics, a firm dedicated to creating an autonomous future. A group of former Israeli Air Force pilots established this company with their focus on testing and experimentation solutions for autonomous vehicles and drones. They are a leading organization in Israel, despite being only two and a half years old, and we learned about the many applications of their software. A big takeaway here is how a company can grow as a value-add solution to other providers' drone hardware.

We then went to lunch at the Sarona Market, a marketplace that brings together a wide variety of international culinary offerings. After lunch, we met with IDB, a business conglomerate that holds leading companies across a variety of industries such as retail, telecom, insurance, real estate, and more. They are also responsible for the ToHa building mentioned earlier. We got an inside look at the design and development of the building. The executive we met with also went more in-depth into Israeli culture and what aspects contribute to the innovation ecosystem. Overall an outstanding first day of the program!

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