The success of the Israeli hi-tech sector predates the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, renowned entrepreneur Dov Moran said Wednesday, dismissing claims that the Israeli leader should take credit for its prosperity."Hi-tech was here long before Netanyahu, and the high point was during the 1990s," Moran, the developer of the USB flash drive and managing partner of Grove Ventures, told the Maariv Business Conference in Herzliya.
"Whoever insists that before him there was only desert and oranges is distorting history," Moran said.The serial innovator has been a vocal critic of Netanyahu in recent months, joining dozens of other hi-tech figures in December to petition the High Court against giving the Likud leader a future mandate to form a government."Technology is something that will continue and will happen, and even at an increased rate," said Moran, turning to Israel's future role in global innovation. "I strongly believe that science will play a very important part in technological advances. It will happen with us or without us. The question is how much it will happen with our involvement."Leading patent attorney Dr. Esther Luzzatto, managing partner at the Luzzatto Group, told the conference that Netanyahu had worked to strengthen the hi-tech sector."I certainly do not think that technological innovation is the legacy of one prime minister or another," said Luzzatto. "I do think that Netanyahu, in these past 10 years, has helped to foster and strengthen technological innovation. He may have made mistakes too, but he understands innovation, and he has supported and encouraged."Luzzatto highlighted the evolution of the Negev city of Beersheba, her place of residence, into a hub of cybersecurity and hi-tech in recent years - including the establishment of Israel's national Cyber Emergency Response Team (CERT) in the city. "I think this innovation was born through the exceptional human capital located in Israel," she said. "It's one of the only sectors where politicians hardly step foot, and maybe succeeded as a result."According to Shahar Matorin, country manager for Startup Grind in Israel, the Jewish state is ideally located to take advantage of growing global interest in innovation."Geographically, Israel is in a great location, and we are seeing it more and more in recent years," said Matorin, who leads the local branch of Startup Grind's global community of entrepreneurs."People have been talking about the 'second' Silicon Valley for years. The first is located on the Western coast of the United States. When Africa, India, China and Eastern Europe talk about innovation, they have a place to meet in Tel Aviv," he said.
Panel on Innovation