Israel has more startups per person than any country in the world; what’s the secret behind the success of the Middle East’s Silicon Wadi?
Over the past two decades, Israel has earned a place as one of the top centers of technology and innovation in the world. It has more R&D per capita than any other country, resulting in a flood of contributions in fields as varied as medicine, communication, military tech, agriculture, and software. In fact, despite the Jewish State’s small size – 8 million people, about one 40th the size of the US – Israelis are now responsible for more new patents in the US than Americans, or any other nationality.
Israel’s vibrant higher education system is a major factor in the country’s tech success, supplying the economy with the brightest minds and undertaking a large proportion of Israeli research projects. But the Israeli tech success story also has its origins in the rise of the Israeli start-up. Start-ups, which thrived in the US prior to the bursting of the Dot-Com Bubble in 2000, have shown tremendous staying power in Israel, which is now home to the most start-ups per person on earth.
In recent years, start-ups have become a crucial driver of innovation worldwide. As the economy changes faster than ever before, larger corporations have struggled to adjust, and internally-driven innovations have become more elusive. Capturing new, outside ideas has become harder for those already on the inside. Start-ups sidestep the problem, providing an outlet for fresh ideas to be tried out and developed. Successful ones can be acquired by larger companies which, unable to produce the innovations, nevertheless enable them to spread and reach the widest possible market.
Teaching the Art of Start-Up
Based on the results of this merger of university-based Israeli tech innovation and start-up business acumen, some schools in Israel have now combined the two on an academic level, revolutionizing business school as we know it. Fusing a traditional business school education with a deep understanding of the inner workings of the world of start-up and the role of technology, the “Start-up” MBA offers the real-world training and skills that have made Israel the locus of business innovation and start-up king.
The first school to offer the start-up oriented business degree is the Technion, the backbone of Israeli R&D. Boasting an impressive conspectus – one of the top ranked universities worldwide, three Nobel Prize laureates in 7 years – and ties to Ivy League schools like Cornell and Yale, the Technion has established itself as one of the most prestigious institutions on earth for engineering, technology, business, and innovation. Fully 24% of Technion grads are either CEOs, VPs, or presidents of a corporation, and half of all NASDAQ-listed Israeli companies are led by Technion grads.
Internationalizing the Israeli Start-Up Model
But how does a school convey to prospective entrepreneurs the nexus of technology and business that lies at the heart of the start-up phenomenon? The Technion’s Start-uP MBA (www.technionmba.com) program sees greater emphasis on problem solving and hands on, real-world experience as the keys to a successful career in business world. Field visits to leading companies, meetings with entrepreneurs who have shepherded their own start-ups through to fruition, and roundtable brainstorming sessions with CEOs to confront the kinds of challenges that await graduates in the market are just some of the ways the Technion prepares students for the new world economy.
Eager to export the country’s pecuniary perspicacity, the Technion’s Start-uP degree has been reformatted as an international, one-year MBA program, offered in English, and open to overseas students seeking to gain an edge over their peers at home.
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