GEW / Israel: A Startup Nation
Mark Marich (GEW global)
Mar 17, 2011
What makes Global Entrepreneurship Week / Israel unique? Israel, sometimes referred to as "Startup Nation", is a hub of entrepreneurship, mainly in high technology. Located at the heart of the Middle East, right between Asia and Africa, it has close trade relations with both Europe and North America, which contribute to its success.
With a population of 7.6 million, yet roughly the world’s 40th largest economy, Israel enjoys a technologically advanced economy, brimming with entrepreneurial activity. Israel benefits from a large and diverse immigrant population with ties all over the world. The citizenry is highly educated and cosmopolitan, and serves as a valuable resource for advancements in high technology. Venture capital and startups are part of the local culture, and more Israeli companies are listed on NASDAQ than from any other country outside of North America, China following closely.
As small as New Jersey, Israel is a '2 degrees of separation' community. Its culture of openness allows easy access to almost everybody. With its well-based entrepreneurial backbone the Global Entrepreneurship Week hosts chose to communicate with existing bodies and pull them into "the Week". "Young Entrepreneurs / Yazamim Zeirim" were the most active body in GEW 2009, followed by "MATI - Center for Cultivation of Entrepreneurship ".
This year's leader was by far "Ta'asiyeda", a joint operation of the Ministry of Education and the Israel Manufacturers Association. To reach relevant organizations we used our networks, and held monthly or bi-weekly meetings starting in August 2010, at which we explained the program and its role.
Israel prides itself in the high level of its universities, almost all of which hold entrepreneurship centers. Four universities and two colleges elected to support the GEW, both in action and financially. Almost all of Israel's universities and colleges partnered in GEW 2010.
Global Entrepreneurship Week/Israel reached close to 9000 participants from all walks of life in all corners of the country. The Week had 90 partners who hosted 197 events—a 44% increase from 2009. Each event was unique and there was something for everyone.
During GEW/Israel, emphasis was put on recognizing and supporting social and entrepreneurship outside of "Tel Aviv State". Events were held with organizations focusing on the underprivileged. This was the nature of the event of "Place in the Heart" in cooperation with Bengis Entrepreneurship Center. Further events, which included representatives of nine different bodies, were held at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. A social entrepreneurship event was held further south, at "Adama" (Earth), Mitzpeh Ramon, until very recently, considered nowhere land. An "Unconference" with Internet Guru Dr. Yossi Vardi was held at Afeka College of Engineering. Events involving high school kids and university students were held all over the country, from Tel Hai up north, through the Technion, Tel Aviv University, Holon Institute of Technology to Sami Shamoon College down south, drawing some of Israel's best entrepreneurs.
Policymakers acknowledged the importance of inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs during the Week. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initiated the Prime Minister's Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, with emphasis on youth and periphery. The award was presented at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
About the GEW Hosts in Israel
The majority of Israel's universities and major colleges participated in the GEW, and 6 leading academic institutes sponsored it.
- Tel Aviv University, The MIT Enterprise Forum of Israel
- The Hebrew University, Asper Center for Entrepreneurship
- The Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, The Bronica Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center
- Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Bengis Center for Entrepreneurship
- Sami Shamoon College of Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center
- Holon Institute of Technology