Stellar Start-ups: Moving beyond Start-up Nation

Looking to future, Hermoni says current model, whereby Israeli companies develop technology and sell out to multinationals, needs to change.

ODED HERMONI_311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
’Tis the season for hi-tech shows in Israel. Last week there was the ILSI-BioMed show, and this Wednesday and Thursday there’s the High Tech Industry Association Annual Conference 2011 (not to mention the Israel Mobile Summit and Israel Game Dev Day).
It’s the second annual show for the HTIA, the “spiritual heir” of the Israel Venture Association (which was established in 1996 and is now a part of the HTIA), helping to promote the hi-tech industry in Israel and abroad.
And the conference is the place to do that promotion, says Oded Hermoni, CEO of the HTIA.
“In the past year we’ve doubled the membership of the HTIA, so there will be more companies and investors, as well as opportunities for networking, at this year’s show,” he says. “We will be hosting companies large and small, and start-ups will be well-represented at the show as well.”
Speakers at the conference will include top hi-tech folk from Israel and abroad, among them representatives of Google, IBM, NICE, Amdocs, Given Imaging, Cisco and others, as well as top venture-capital representatives from investment firms such as JVP, Pitango, Canaan Partners and others. And, there will be all sorts of government officials there, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat et al.
This year, there will be more foreign delegations visiting than ever, including groups from China, India, the United States, Finland, Canada and the European Union.
The HTIA puts so much effort into welcoming the delegations, Hermoni says, that one of the speakers at the conference will be India’s communications and information technology minister, and the sessions will be simultaneously translated into Chinese. “We have the number-two person in China Mobile speaking, the CEO of Synopsys, one of the top executives of Japan’s Softbank and many others,” he adds.
“We have a very large group coming from Russia this year,” Hermoni says. “It makes a great deal of sense for Russia and Israel to be working together on ventures and investments,” considering how many Russian immigrants live here and work in hi-tech.”
“They come from all around the world to see what Israel is doing in hi-tech,” he says. “This is the largest conference of its kind in Israel, and it’s a great opportunity for companies to network and meet potential investors. There will be hundreds of one-on-one meetings, high profile keynote speakers and intense roundtable discussions.”
And, of course, start-ups will be well-represented. This year, all of Israel’s top incubators will be at the show, showing off their best technologies and ideas. Among the start-ups that will be presenting at the show will be innovative companies, including: • 2P2D, which is developing is developing ClinicAid, a wireless telemedicine system that provides real-time monitoring and documentation of participants’ drug compliance and adherence during clinical trials.
• Juvenis, which is developing injectable large-volume biofillers for shaping the breasts, buttocks and calves, without permanent implants and the related risk and pain of surgery, scaring and longterm recovery.
• MicroPointing, which is developing a tiny 1-square-millimeter mouse for mobile devices such as cellphones, tablet PCs, Internet TVs, medical devices and more.
• SolChip, which is developing a photo-voltaic (PV)-powered semiconductor device that harvests sunlight energy to power billions of individual appliances.
All in all, the conference will be a great opportunity for folks from all corners of the hi-tech world – developers, investors, academicians, corporate executives – to get together and celebrate Israeli hitech.
“That’s our objective at the HTIA,” Hermoni says. “We want to provide a forum to discuss all the issues surrounding Israel as a hitech nation and create business opportunities for them.”
Hermoni uses that expression specifically, instead of the one that became much more popular and well-known in the past couple of years: “Start-up Nation,” which was also the title of the seminal book by Dan Senor and Saul Singer.
“The start-up years were great,” he says, “but if Israel is going to survive in the hi-tech world, it has to move beyond the start-up model.”
That model, Hermoni says, can be duplicated by others, such as China and India, who are willing to work for less.
“I am asked at conferences all the time by representatives of dozens of nations how they can duplicate the start-up environment we have in Israel,” he says. “It’s a great compliment to the country, of course, but a bit worrisome, because others will eventually compete with us for our dominant position as the startup nation.”
Looking to the future, Hermoni says the current model, whereby Israeli companies develop the technology and sell out to multinationals, needs to change.
“We at the HTIA are building a new platform for hi-tech development,” he says. “We need to get everyone involved so we can develop a policy for the future – corporate executives, tech people, academics, and investors.”
Each of those groups has a healthy representation on the HTIA board of directors, Hermoni says, because “only if we work together will be able to overcome the challenges facing us.”