From left: Yoram Elgrabli, Vice President North and Central America EL AL, Prof. Efraim Chalamish, Law and Business Professor, Uri Levin, President and CEO of Israel Discount Bank in New York, Inon Elroy, Israeli Economic Minister to North America and Oded Har Even, Partner & Managing Director ZAG- .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
NEW YORK – When people think of Israel, they think of the Start-Up Nation – perhaps soon to be the “Scale-Up Nation,” said law and business professor Prof. Efraim Chalamish on Sunday.
Moderating a panel on “How to Keep Israel’s Economy Growing” at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference, he said that in so many arenas – including banking and aviation – Israel is developing the latest technologies that will be used by other industry players.
Take El Al. Yoram Elgrabli, vice president of North and Central America for Israel’s airline, said that El Al is working hard to turn aviation “to be very techy and sophisticated.” The company purchased 16 new Dreamliners that will fly to and from all its North American destinations. Nine of them have already joined the airline’s fleet.
“We have Wi-Fi onboard and a state-of-the-art entertainment system,” said Elgrabli, noting that El Al also launched Cockpit Innovation, its venture arm for technologies in the air travel industry.
The airline also recently launched several new direct flights, including one this month from Las Vegas to Tel Aviv. Last month, it launched San Francisco to Tel Aviv and last year, Miami to Tel Aviv.
“We are looking forward to opening a new route from Chicago as of March 2020,” he added.
Innovation is also on the mind of Israeli leaders in the banking industry. Uri Levin, president and chief executive officer for Israel Discount Bank (IDB) of New York, said at the conference that the bank of 50 years ago is not the bank of today, and that IDB sees its role as “fostering the technology and innovation in the banking industry,” which will help Israeli companies that are interested in entering the US marketplace.
“We see this as one of our most important roles,” he said.
As does the government of Israel.
Inon Elroy, Israeli Economic Minister to North America, said that there is room for everyone in Israel, noting that Apple, Microsoft and many companies in between are opening branches here. At the same time, more and more Israeli companies are being sold or opening satellites abroad.
Often, Elroy said, the media focuses on those companies sold for high prices, but “sometimes start-ups are sold for $20 million or $50m. and that is also good. Those companies’ owners afterwards go on to set up new companies – and many of them [start] second and third and fourth companies.
“This is very good for the economy,” he continued.
And Elroy said we will be seeing more of this.
Oded Har-Even, partner and managing director for ZAG/Sullivan International Law Firm, said he agrees. His firm represents about a quarter of the Israeli companies on NASDAQ. Recently, four of them were acquired, including Mazor Robotics Ltd. by Medtronic for $1.6 billion.
“We accompanied Mazor from its early stages, its NASDAQ IPO and through its sale, and so we feel as though their success is also our success,” Har-Even said. “We view ourselves as partners, not just as lawyers – and so we not only advise on the legal side, but we also help make many introductions and provide a lot of advice that is more business-related – essentially helping companies navigate the ecosystem.”
He said Israeli companies, especially in the life sciences, have many accomplishments to show for such a small country.
“There are amazing stories,” he said.
But he cautioned that politicians need to work to preserve Israeli democracy and be careful with the statements they make on social media and to the press.
“The fact that Israel is a democracy is key for its economic growth and for people to invest in Israeli companies,” he added.
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