Intel Israel President Mooly Eden expressed concern Sunday that Israel was becoming complacent with its status as the “start-up nation,” a phrase popularized by a book of the same name exalting the country’s entrepreneurial innovations.
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“This isn’t forever,” Eden said at the company’s annual conference in North Tel Aviv, against a backdrop of convertible touch screen laptops, tablets, smart phones and other high-powered gadgets. “Are we investing enough in Israel on a national level so that in the future we will a have ‘Israel: The Start-up Nation, Part Two,’ or will this be a history book?”
Eden raised the question after announcing a banner year for Intel Israel. The company more than doubled its exports, from $2.2 billion in 2011 to $4.6 b. in 2012. That figure represents 10% of Israel’s total exports (excluding diamonds), and 20% of the country’s $21.5 billion in high tech exports.
“This should be a flashing red light,” said Eden, looking like a European Steve Jobs with his backward Kangel beret matching his all black attire. Although the company’s remarkable success in Israel caused him great pride, he said, there were plenty of other tech-savvy nations that will outpace Israel if it doesn’t make the right investments. “We aren’t the only start-up nation in the world. There’s a start-up nation in India and a start-up nation in China and a start-up nation in Brazil,” he said, attributing the current Israeli high-tech boom, in part, to the influx of relatively educated immigrants from the Soviet Union in the 1990’s.