Israel: A Technological and Economic Powerhouse
Israel is a global leader in tech development and city smartification, with a higher standard of living than many other Western countries, thanks to its advanced economy, ranking within the top twenty nations in the world. Furthermore, it is ranked first globally for total expenditure on R&D, while boasting the largest total amount of start-up companies per capita in the world and a great number of scientists and technicians in the workforce. There is a potential for significant additional growth by utilizing the technology already available. Before your next tour to Israel, let’s take a look at some of Israel’s major accomplishments.
The Economy Boom
Israel experienced an economic explosion in the last seven decades, transforming itself from a struggling nation into a technological powerhouse that has seen economic growth for fifteen consecutive years. Importantly, Israel has successfully implemented a policy of fiscal restraint that has kept budgets in check. It has found natural gas reserves, crucial on its path to energy independence. In seventy years, the population went from 806,000 to 8.84 million. Yet, the unemployment level is the lowest it’s been in decades. With the economy seeing a yearly average growth of 3.3% since 2000, higher than in many OECD countries, Israelis’ standard of living has significantly risen. It’s ranked the 11th happiest country in the world.
When the internet erased geographic barriers, Israeli entrepreneurship flourished, and many young people entered the field. Soon, Israel became globally known as a start-up and innovation center. In 2012, important programmes were created in Jerusalem to assist the promising start-ups by offering professional mentoring, a free workspace, and networking. The start-up ecosystem is still expanding and attracting investment from all over the world. Large companies are buying Israeli technologies and setting up research and development centers here. The only thing stopping that ecosystem from growing substantially is the human capital, but the solution is simple: groups underrepresented in high tech must be included, namely women, Arabs, and the Haredim.
Israel has greatly contributed to the global growth of advanced manufacturing, driven by the country’s brilliance in high-tech and R&D. It has distinguished itself across high-tech sectors, including IT, big data and cloud, industrial robots, sensor systems and advanced processors, widespread additive manufacturing technologies, etc. Besides high-tech, Israel has developed and integrated a number of brilliant solutions for manufacturing in low-tech industries, employing innovative processes. Importantly, various organizations and government ministries offer numerous grants, loans, and incentive programmes, the goal of which is to incentivize innovation and start-up creation throughout the country, as well as to encourage businesses to modernize, in order to make Israel more competitive with other OECD countries.
Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
Israeli AI firms are developing and implementing AI across sectors and industries, including technology, fintech, automotive industry, healthcare, marketing, etc., receiving global praise. Investors are immensely interested in Israel’s more than 950 tech start-ups, with almost twenty percent of investments being directed towards AI companies. AI-based robotic devices are increasingly popular. An example is ElliQ – a robotic companion for the elderly, which suggests activities and makes communication easier. Construction needs robot builders to make the work more efficient and modernize the industry. IntSite Construction Technologies, for example, adapted technology originally used for missile systems to create an automated crane, which boosts efficiency, shortens building time, and saves money.
Israel’s cities are getting smarter each day. The constant innovations resulted in a myriad of phenomenal inventions, including turning Jerusalem into the first city to be completely covered by Wi-Fi, Harry Zvi Tabor’s solar water heating system, and Yossi Leshem’s mapping of the billion beautiful birds that fly over Israel, setting a global standard in bird-aircraft collision prevention. Companies like CyberArk and the Check Point Software Technologies developed firewalls that protect enterprises from cybersecurity breaches; driverless car system Mobileye and navigation app Waze have become huge (in fact, Waze was just recently sold to Google for $1bn); military development made Israel the world’s largest exporter of drones; and massive advances in water and agricultural technology have been made – the system SupPlant, for example, collects real-time crop data on farms, and if it detects water stress in plants, automatically adjusts irrigation flows.
Twelve Israelis were awarded Nobel Prize since 1966 in literature, peace, economics, and chemistry. The list being so long, we’ll mention only two this time. The first Israeli to win this prestigious award was Shmuel Yosef Agnon (1888 –1970) – an immensely relevant writer in the realm of Modern Hebrew fiction. His works deal with the conflict between the Jewish tradition and the modern world, while also trying to recapture the vanishing traditions of the European shtetl.
The impressive Ada E. Yonath (born in 1939) was one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009 for her studies on the structure and function of the ribosome, becoming the first Israeli woman to win the Nobel Prize, the first woman from the Middle East to win that award in the field of science, and the first woman in forty-five years to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.