An investment that does more with less

No matter what, though, the goal is the same: returns!

By MICHAEL WAXMAN-LENZ
September 5, 2019 21:44
3 minute read.
An investment that does more with less

Technion–Israel Institute of Technology. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

How would you invest a dollar?

Many would opt for a blue-chip stock. Others would roll the dice on a high-risk, high-reward, speculative investment. Still others would play it safer through a diversified fund or a bond.

No matter what, though, the goal is the same: returns!

Over the course of my circuitous personal and professional journey – from my native Germany, to Kazakhstan, to Israel, to Cleveland, to New York – I have seen how some dollars do more than others. And I’ve seen no country do more with less than Israel, and no institution do more with less than the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

A country roughly the size of New Jersey, Israel has more NASDAQ-listed companies than any nation besides the US and China, and more venture capital funds than any country but America. The so-called “Start-Up Nation” earned its moniker for producing the world’s highest number of start-up companies per capita.

Indeed, Israel is no longer the proverbial David to the planet’s economic Goliaths. To use just two recent examples, Yokne’am-based Mellanox Technologies was acquired by Nvidia this year for $6.9 billion, and Caesarea-based Mazor Robotics was acquired by Medtronic for $1.7b.

Both companies were headed or founded by alumni of the Technion.

Imagine for a moment if MIT or Caltech produced a quarter of America’s Nobel laureates and a third of its most important business leaders. In Israel, the Technion has already accomplished it. Our professors have won three of Israel’s 12 Nobel Prizes, and our alumni hold executive positions at 42 of the 72 hi-tech Israeli companies on the NASDAQ, which have a combined market cap of nearly $22b.

The Technion has built this track record with an annual research budget of $100 million, compared to MIT’s $731m. We’ve measured that for every dollar spent at a US university for research, you’d get $4 to spend at the Technion.

How is that possible? The Technion’s students and faculty exhibit a blend of work ethic, ambition and entrepreneurial spirit that is remarkable even within the context of the Start-Up Nation. More than 70% of the Technion’s graduates enter the hi-tech sector, and over a quarter have founded at least one start-up.

From seeking to cure cancer, save water supplies, discover new sources of renewable energy, and more, Technion researchers fearlessly tackle some of the world’s greatest problems. Pursuing this ambitious track requires a globalized outlook – and the Technion is a uniquely global university that maintains memoranda of understanding with more than 200 universities and research frameworks abroad, its own campuses in Israel and China, and the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute in New York.
Yet for philanthropic investors, the greatest return on investment (ROI) on giving a dollar to the Technion goes beyond the university’s innovations and infrastructure. That dollar supports the people behind the success stories – the torchbearers of Israeli ingenuity who are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

Take the story of Technion Prof. Hossam Haick, who led a team of 56 researchers from five countries that developed NaNose, the technology that sniffs your breath to detect diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s. Somehow, Prof. Haick finds the time in between his research breakthroughs to teach younger students and to volunteer around Israel. Further, as an Israeli-Arab, he exemplifies the Technion’s commitment to ensuring that all of Israel’s citizens succeed. Eight years ago, he spearheaded an effort at the Technion to begin offering prep courses enabling more Arab students to enroll at the university.

Or consider the journey of Dr. Hodaya Olliel, who has cerebral palsy and is a graduate of the Technion’s Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. She’s now specializing in pediatric neurology, fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Watching the likes of Prof. Haick and Dr. Olliel in action is witnessing a dollar go to work in diverse, inspiring, world-changing ways. They are the engines who power each dollar to do more with less. At the end of the day, there’s really no greater ROI.

The writer is the acting CEO of the American Technion Society.


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