As Israel’s 75th year approaches, the country has broken boundaries across industries. From agriculture to hi-tech, innovation is at the forefront of this global shakeup. Overseeing this rampant growth, particularly in the hi-tech space, is the Israel Innovation Authority.
Based in Jerusalem and founded in the 1960s under the auspices of the Ministry of the Economy, the Israel Innovation Authority is working diligently to ensure that Israel continues its pace as a tech leader, as well as being able to navigate the ever-evolving tech landscape.
The Israel Innovation Authority, led by Dror Bin, has approximately 140 employees who deal with all industries. When it comes to start-ups, it is there through the entire lifecycle, from pre-seed and above. According to its data, which it publishes yearly, Israel has 42 unicorns, or companies valued over $1 billion, and 88 companies with mega funding rounds over $100 million – astronomical growth.
How does the Israel Innovation Authority keep the Jewish state ahead of the curb?
The Jerusalem Report spoke to the Israel Innovation Authority to learn more about how it is working to keep Israel ahead of the curve. According to the Israel Innovation Authority, zooming in on the situation, the companies multiplied. Among its work with companies, it focuses on piloting products, design partners and grants. These go to companies across the spectrum, from fintech and cyber to agriculture.
A big issue the IIA points out, which is well documented across Israel’s hi-tech sector, is a large number of junior employees, while companies require senior level to accompany their growth. Unfortunately, the jump from junior to senior usually comes through work experience, creating a Catch-22 type of situation.
While under the Ministry of the Economy, the IIA operates completely independently. At the core of its work is understanding what makes Israeli entrepreneurs so unique. To this the answer becomes clear: chutzpah. Israeli companies tackle problems much larger than the landmass allotted to them – and even problems that do not exist in Israel. It is a remarkable idea to think that Israeli companies are solving problems in US real estate, when they are based a 12-hour flight away.
Moving forward, the work of the Israel Innovation Authority shifts to figuring out what the biggest opportunities are for the future. More so, how can it help capitalize on this? To do this, it analyzes trends – something its many analysts do – as well as looks at tech with the potential for large growth and revenue potential. This also means taking a look at tech and innovations with practical as well as theoretical applications, such as a quantum, where it recently allocated a NIS 100 million budget to further its potential in Israel. This is one of the many consortiums it establishes.
This also plays into its goal of finding future waves of innovation that directly impact the economy of the State of Israel, materially and intangibly. To do this, it also assists with the emerging tech communities of women, Arabs and haredim.
As it is a government agency, the work it does with companies and entrepreneurs is cost and equity-free. Its budget is approximately NIS 1.5 billion, allowing it to work across the spectrum helping companies.
Its work is also with foreign countries, such as its participation in the COP27 climate conference. In all, the IIA works with thousands of companies, start-ups and investors, as well as with incubators. Its work also deals with defense technology that can help the IDF.
The Israel Innovation Authority emphasizes that “technology is the future… to continue to make Israel a big hub and ecosystem, there is great potential.” The IIA is particularly interested in climate tech, given the push for more renewable energy technology and carbon-focused tech. Also foodtech and energy – both playing into the trend of a global need for these tools to compensate growing populations. Of course, this also includes artificial intelligence, which has made headlines with the release of ChatGTP, showcasing how powerful these tools can be.
In all, the Israel Innovation Authority is deeply committed to ensuring that Israel remains at the top, both per capita and in absolute terms, of the global tech world. With power vacuums growing and tech leaping to new heights, Israel, thanks in large part to the IIA, is well placed to continue in its trend as a global hub for tech and innovation. ■