The Israeli technology sector has already had a landmark year in 2017.
Breaking all acquisition records, Israeli autonomous driving technology company Mobileye was sold to Intel for $15.3 billion in March. Likewise, in the first quarter of 2017, Israeli tech companies raised over $1 billion of investment capital in 155 transactions.
Israel is widely referred to as the “Start-Up Nation,” with more Nasdaq-listed companies than any other country aside from the United States and China. Israel’s robust tech sector finds its roots in numerous factors within Israeli society, institutions, geography and geology.
One significant source for grooming Israeli tech talent is the Israel Defense Forces.
The IDF’s cyber tech unit, 8200, which is credited with some of the world’s most creative and impactful cybersecurity and cyber warfare tactics, often scouts Israelis with a high aptitude for computer technology as early as high school. Those who make it into the elite unit receive high-level tech training, hands-on experience developing cutting-edge software and a strong network of similarly advanced tech pioneers.
Israel’s education system is similarly an important component of the Start-Up Nation. With more than 90 percent of its students graduating from high school and the world’s second-highest number of four-year degrees per capita, Israel has the highest number of scientists and engineers per capita in the world.
In addition, beyond the infrastructure in place to develop the skills necessary for high-tech innovation, Israel’s unique circumstances as a tiny country with limited natural resources and constant existential security threats have bred a culture of ingenuity as a means of survival.
Just a few examples are the highly advanced Iron Dome missile defense system, which has proved to be 90 percent effective in intercepting all-too-common barrages of enemy rockets; desalination technology, which has carried Israel from being in constant danger of running out of water to having a water surplus that is sold to neighboring countries; and numerous agricultural technologies that have allowed arid regions in Israel with limited nutrients to flourish as centers of food production.
Developing a successful piece of technology or a startup company requires training, vision, the ability to adapt to changing conditions, a network of talent and investors, and the capacity to produce significant results in a short period of time with limited resources. Israel’s unique circumstances have produced institutions and mentalities among its tech minds that have made the Jewish state a perfect storm for leading the world in technological advancement.