“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
In just 66 years, the State of Israel has brought together some of the finest minds in innovation. Dubbed the “Startup Nation,” Israel is the world’s leader in producing the largest amount of high-tech startup companies and venture capitalist (VC) industry per capita. During a time of international financial crisis, the Israeli economy has been constant in establishing startups and producing profit.
The Israeli market is diverse and is the most vivacious and lucrative startup environment in the world. There are 70 active VC firms in Israel which have raked in $6.7 billion in profits from 2003-2012. Israel has over 4,800 startups and 250 R&D centers, with over 50 percent of the Israeli high-tech work force working in R&D. Big name companies like Microsoft and Cisco opened their first international R&D centers right here in Israel.
Many startups in Israel have garnered international attention over the last several years. Waze, “the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app,” was created in Israel and bought by Google in 2013 for $1.1 billion. In 2011, Cisco acquired Israeli startup NDS, a high-tech firm that optimizes video software and content security solutions.
Recently in the news is the purchase of the popular instant messaging system Viber, which was created by Israeli entrepreneur Talmon Marco. Rakuten, one of Japan’s largest Internet companies, bought Viber Media for a whopping $900 million. Viber, which utilizes Voice Over IP technology, has become a large competitor to Skype with over 280 million registered users.
This week, an Israeli security startup called SlickLogin was purchased by Google. Terms of the sale are not yet made public but SlickLogin has only been around since last year.
Zack Miller, head of the investor community for OurCrowd, an equity based crowd-funding platform in Israel, explains that Israel will always remain unique in its ability to have exceptionally high amounts of startups.
“Against all odds, in a region lacking natural resources and under constant existential threat from its surrounding enemies, Israel has prevailed as a world leader in technological innovation,” he said. “Israel’s success is thanks to an immigrant population that commends tenacious hard work, a culture that sees the value of failure as a stepping stone on the road to prosperity and a giant dose of Jewish chutzpa. The fact that many multinationals are continuing to invest heavily in the Startup Nation is proof to Israel’s unique recipe for creating a thriving, strong startup ecosystem.”
One Israeli startup OurCrowd helped fund has completely revolutionized the future of paraplegics. Argo, a medical technologies company, created an exoskeleton device known as ReWalk which allows those who cannot walk to receive the gift of mobility. Currently available in Israel and Europe, ReWalk’s aim is to help those who are confined to wheelchairs due to spinal cord injuries.
When given the opportunity to invest in an Israeli company that will help drastically improve the quality of life for millions of people around the world, investors jumped on the chance to fund ReWalk.
“More than in other classes of investment, where activity can seem faceless and purely numerical, backing a startup is a statement of faith in the company’s vision for the world,” Miller explained. “Among our other investments, Argo ReWalk attracted the most number of individuals to join OurCrowd for the opportunity to back a medical device that substantially impacts the lives of paraplegics. By championing a new technology to enable those with spinal cord injuries to walk again, ReWalk exemplifies the startup whose attraction goes beyond its business model and financials but is driven by its disruptive, revolutionary vision for the future.”
Each year, Israeli startups are helping to shape a better future for the entire world. The ideas that are nurtured in Israel’s unique startup ecosystem flourish in ways that seem impossible. One thing is for sure – Israel is saving the world, one startup at a time.