The Jewish festival of Passover commemorates the Exodus of the Jewish people from slavery, the birth of the Jewish nation and the concept of freedom. In today’s Jewish State we are again experiencing the excitement of a “Start-up Nation” that is awakening the world to fundamentally new concepts.
Most of the world’s top hi-tech giants have established Research and Development centres in the Jewish State to take advantage of the technological concepts generated by young Israeli companies. One of them – IBM – is looking to spend $20 billion globally on acquiring leading technologies. According to banking giant Morgan Stanley, many will be Israeli. Just recently, a delegation of top life sciences executives visited Israel to seek collaborations or investment in Israeli companies that have invented new medical concepts. Simultaneously, dozens of investors from the US, Europe and the Far East were in Tel Aviv to review the offerings of Israeli high-tech companies, at this year’s Israel Innovation Marathon.
One advantage demonstrated by Israeli start-ups is their flexibility. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made it more difficult recently for bio-techs around the world to prove safety and efficacy of their products. But Israeli companies can make the necessary adjustments much more efficiently, giving them the edge on the competition.
Several organisations are doing vital work to support these Israeli entrepreneurs. One of the newest is Kinetis – the organisation formed to bring word of Israel’s creativity and innovations to the attention of the world. Its major project is SNAP, which stands for Start-up Nation Awareness Programs. In contrast, one of the oldest, yet leading edge, is the Israel Technion – celebrating its centenary currently. Yossi Vardi is one of the Technion’s most vocal of advocates. Yossi graduated from Israel’s Technion some 40 years ago, and helped to build over sixty hi-tech companies.
Two start-ups typify Israel’s exciting innovations in New Media. Iway Mobile Ltd sells 70 Comodo car consoles a day. The system provides navigation, plus access to online radio and TV stations, parking by mobile payment, and much more. Iway Mobile is now launching a pilot with China Unicom, which has 150 million subscribers. Another start-up, computer game company Funtactix, has designed and developed the official online game for the smash hit movie “The Hunger Games”. Funtactix previously developed a game to accompany the fourth “Mission Impossible” movie.
For a nation to be reborn, it needs to appreciate its historic roots. iTravelJerusalem.com has just issued its recommendations for the top five archaeology sites in Jerusalem. No prizes for guessing that the awards go to the City of David, the Archaeological Park & Davidson, the Rockefeller Museum, the Bible Lands Museum and the Tower of David. And this time of year brings some interesting visitors to the Western Wall - the annual migration of the swifts. Several hundred of the aerial acrobats nest in the cracks between the stones of the Kotel – providing an exciting spectacle to their international audience.
Judaism is a vital component of the modern Jewish State. The Zomet Institute has always been successful at combining technology and religious observance. It has just designed the “Shabbatphone” for the religiously observant who are engaged in vital (non-life saving*) services on Shabbat. It works on the principle of changing electric capacitance. (*Jews may of course break Shabbat laws in order to save life.) Another development is a kosher-for-Shabbat capacitative keyboard, which operates on the principle of “gramma” (indirect action). Anticipating a surge of religious soldiers, the IDF has purchased 500 of the keyboards for those who need computers to perform military duties on the Sabbath.
As with Solomon’s Kingdom, all the nations of the world want a glimpse of the wonders of the Jewish State. She may not be the Queen of Sheba, but “Queen of Pop” Madonna has just announced that she has added a second Ramat Gan stadium performance to the original concert that will launch her 2012 World tour. And Israel has also attracted two legendary rock bands. Guns & Roses are scheduled to perform at Yarkon Park in July, whilst Jethro Tull will be doing three gigs in Jerusalem, Haifa and Raanana in early September.
The Bank of Israel’s annual report shows that the economy is in good shape, and GDP forecasts have been revised upwards for 2012 and 2013. But one important statistic had almost been overlooked until Nefesh b’Nefesh revealed that there has been a huge surge in Aliya of young professionals. Over 1,300 singles and young professionals between the ages of 18 and 30 made Aliyah in 2011 alone – a 250% increase over the last five years. Excellent career opportunities have made moving to the Jewish State a much easier decision.
It may not be on the scale of the Exodus, but we’re definitely on the move again!
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.