The country of Israel has established a unique position as a global innovation leader, earning the moniker "Start-up Nation." On a per capita basis, the country leads the world in start-ups, exits, NASDAQ traded companies, academic papers, and technology licenses. The flourishing innovation community has 3,500 start-ups in close proximity to 280 corporate R&D centers. Markets have noticed as high-tech exits climbed to $5.29 billion in the first half of 2015, already 76% of the total seen in 2014.
Significantly, Israel doesn't just invent technology – it also successfully deploys it. It re-uses 75% of its water, operates the world’s largest desalination plant at the lowest cost, realizes the highest efficiency crop yield, and uses solar energy to heat water in 90% of households. For these reasons, Lux Research is organizing an Innovation Tour to Israel.
There are a number of ways that companies can take advantage of the unique innovation ecosystem in a place like Israel. Most obviously, companies can scout for technology acquisitions that help them add key capabilities, as firms have done in a range of industries. Google bought navigation company Waze for $1 billion, and Monsanto picked up improved plants traits company Rosetta Green.
Along similar lines, multinationals can simply partner (with or without an equity component). Bayer CropScience works with genomic crop modification company Kaiima to access its enhanced yield polyploid rice variants, while Qualcomm and Google have added investments from their venture arms to their work with 3D imaging specialist Mantis Vision.
Finally, companies can contract out work to entrepreneurial teams. Korean electronics giant LG challenged both an internal engineering team and a group of Israeli entrepreneurs to work on the same set of new product ideas – after two weeks, they found the internal team was still requesting more specs and asking clarifying questions, while the outside Israeli team had already generated three working prototypes.
Despite the variety of opportunities present for tapping into this unique environment, we find in conversations with clients that not as many of them have the knowledge, or crucially, the network within Israel that would allow them to tap into these innovation pools. As a result, Lux Research is organizing an executive tour to Israel from March 5th to 9th 2016, to connect senior executives from corporate strategy, technology scouting, new business development, and venture capital functions to Israel’s most inspiring and successful innovators, investors, and entrepreneurs. You can find more information on the Lux Innovation Tour to Israel here or request an invitation.
Much is always made of the importance of ecosystems in generating great innovations, and the importance of tapping into them to support corporate open innovation programs. While innovation is global, a focus on a hotbed like Israel can help clients to accelerate their efforts.