What Makes Israel a Technology Hotbed?
No one disputes the fact that Israel is a worldwide leading incubator for new technology in general and print in particular. Many people often ask me, “How did Israel become such a technology powerhouse? What is in your DNA?” I don’t think I have a monopoly on the answer – in fact there is a pretty famous book on the subject – but I think there are a number of factors that converge to make Israel quite an extraordinary place for technology and for our fabled outofthebox thinking.
The first factor is that every Israeli child knows from the day of birth that he or she will spend two or three years of his life in the military serving his country – not for personal gain, not for profit, but for some unquestioned purpose higher than himself. In the workplace, the Israeli transposes this same loyalty to his company. The result is amazingly powerful – and is part of the magic on which Israel‘s high tech industry was built. The second factor is that when Israeli kids get to the army, they are exposed to some of the most advanced – perhaps the most advanced – technology in the world, from code breaking software to communications and more. And not just as users. They invent it, develop it, maintain it, fix it and improve it – perfect training for real world of high technology.
NERVE WITH A HEALTHY DOSE OF DISRESPECT
The third factor is what I like to call “good old Israeli chutzpah”. “Chutzpah” means nerve with a healthy dose of disrespect. It’s a lack of acceptance of convention, of authority, of red lights – or of conventional limits. In such a culture, “it can’t be done” is not a statement, it’s a provocation. And “no” is not an answer; it’s just an opening position for the next round of negotiations.The army also teaches one to take risks. Technological risks are nothing compared to the risks one takes in the military. And business risks? What are they compared to risking one’s own life? This risktaking environment also teaches responsibility and leadership. What you can learn in officers’ course far surpasses what you can get out of a couple of years of business school. Finally, I don’t think we can talk about hightech in Israel without giving credit to the pioneers who made the first breakthroughs in Israel’s hightech industry. Today’s generation stands on the shoulders of these giants. Many of today’s new companies are the offspring of these early pioneers. The list includes people like Uzia Galil who helped develop the world’s first color television at Motorola. Or Efi Arazi, who founded Scitex, EFI and had a huge impact on my work at Indigo as well as a host of companies like Nur, Aprion and more.
Today hightech is as natural to Israel as cheese to Switzerland or champagne to France. In our part of the world, hightechnology for pharmaceuticals, for communications, for the Internet – and of course for printing – have put Israel squarely on map of global technological leadership.