Start-up Nation – The Emerging Business Narrative in Israel

05 Jul 2011
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Jerry Kathman

I recently had the opportunity to speak about budding Israeli partnerships at the Jewish Community Relations Council’s Annual Meeting. Just last year, I witnessed the development of these new partnerships in person, when myself and 29 other top business leaders and venture capitalists from Cincinnati visited Israel on an exploratory trade mission with the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. While in Israel, we experienced firsthand the new business narrative emerging in this nation with the highest density of start-up companies in the world.

Dan Senor and Saul Singer explore this phenomenon in their recent book, Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle. The book examines Israel’s adversity-driven cultural backdrop and how it powers the intense, unique and innovative atmosphere, which serves as fertile ground for young businesses. Entrepreneurs and innovators in Israel benefit from a business-friendly environment where there are more venture capital dollars per person than in any other nation and more companies listed on NASDAQ than in any country outside the U.S. — even more than all of Europe, Japan, India and China combined.

On the trade mission, we visited Sophie Bloom of P&G Israel and their new partner TEVA, an Israeli-founded leading generic pharmaceuticals company with a large global presence. Since striking a deal with P&G, TEVA is now positioned to benefit from a partnership with perhaps the greatest brand builder of all.

We also had the opportunity to learn about potential business opportunities and meet with young Israeli companies interested in building a bridge to the U.S. market. With many multi-national corporations beginning to study Israel’s innovation-sparking atmosphere and to seek partnerships with other young Israeli companies, it is crucial that start-ups be cognizant of their brand’s appeal on a global level. As a brand builder, I see great potential for consultancies such as ours to continue to develop relationships with start-up brands in Israel.

The past two decades have been a time of transformation for the Israeli economy, which, in the years ahead, should spur innovation in areas such as water management, agricultural science, alternative energy and security.