Israel Week # 5: The exception to the rule!
Continuation and end of our special week dedicated to innovation in Israel.
Among all the visits to symbolic high-tech places and meetings with Israeli entrepreneurs, one of the highlights of the Trip IT masterfully organized by the France Israel Foundation is undoubtedly the moment spent in Nazareth, a predominantly Arab city, in the NGT (New Generation Technology), the only one of the 23 incubators in the country where Jewish and Arab startup creators coexist.
For information, the country’s population is made up for 20% of Arabs, or nearly 1.4 of the 7 million inhabitants. The vast majority of them are in the throes of real difficulties in accessing equal treatment in matters of education, employment and housing. They represent no more than 10% of graduate students in the country and are prohibited from access to all so-called sensitive university sectors, in other words those which have traditionally fueled Israeli research for military purposes. They naturally turn to medical and biotechnology sectors.
In terms of support for the creation of startups, these Israeli Arab entrepreneurs can only count on the NGT of Nazareth alone. Created in 2002, it has hosted 21 companies for residences of 2 to 3 years, including 15 Arab or “mixed”. The state helps the NGT to finance them on an average of $ 700,000 which represents 85% of the funds raised. In exchange, the NGT takes 50% of the shares of each company. The CEO of the NGT, Nasri Said, may explain that this is an encouraging sign of openness, he weighs each of the words of his speech and we then feel an embarrassment to evoke the reality that hides the NGT: 22 out of 23 incubators in the country are simply not open to 20% of its citizens!
This discrimination is “fortunately” one of the major subjects of controversy which constantly agitates Israeli society, in particular through a certain number of media known for their freedom of tone.
Summary of these few days in the footsteps of Israeli innovation
When you combine: a collective culture of innovation as an absolute necessity, a Technion (University of Haifa) where multidisciplinarity and the creation of startups are in the DNA, a global thought at the source of any project as evidence in a undersized market, a plethora of potential investors, research centers of global high-tech giants, an army as a large social network and provider of contracts, a dense network of incubators assisted by the state, a master’s degree general English as the language of business, a pronounced taste for risk, a legitimate right to fail a project, a strategic positioning in the radars of Silicon Valley … you actually have a few chances to get high -tech the major objective of growth for an entire country!
One last word. e were pleasantly surprised by the thirst of Israeli entrepreneurs to meet the French high-tech world. Israel is only one hour of jet lag from France and it seems obvious to many people on the spot that today it is necessary to give real life to the contacts and collaborations between companies and investors of the two countries. It is also our feeling at the end of this trip.
The tool for these economic exchanges exists: the France Israel Foundation has just launched Isralink, the social network of French and Israeli companies.
A very last word. If the meetings with the Isrealis – all the Israelis – were rich, those with the bloggers, journalists and organizers of this #tripITisrael had nothing to envy them in quality. Machikore everyone!