I research success factors in innovation clusters, with a particular focus on Open Innovation, co-creation and social networks. Future centers are crucibles of technological advancement, and maximisation of successful outcomes is a key challenge for private and public sector investors. Start-ups play a vital role in securing technological hegemony. Innovation models harnessing collaboration between ‘partner clusters’ or through ‘cluster twinning’ are exciting, providing start-ups with increased opportunities to share and cross-fertilise ideas, and ultimately drive products and services into new markets and territories.

The Future Center Alliance is convening the 5th Future Center Summit in Israel from May 14th to May 16th, with a specific focus on “A Multi-perspective Experimental Exploration of the Start-up Culture.” This will look at future centers, innovation hubs and start-up companies in sectors including technology, education, social affairs, the third sector, public sector, arts and sciences. Heterogeneity in future centers is increasing, one area of my research focuses on the composition of organic clusters and how new opportunities are being created across vertical markets though online networking and collaboration and physical proximity. East London’s innovation cluster (taking one example) comprises many technology start-ups, but is also a vibrant location for media, entertainment, fashion and traditional business service providers.

The summit begins (May 14th) in Tel Aviv at the Better Place visitor centre with an exploration of the questions:

How can a world-changing Future image be created? And turned into reality? How can Future Centers act together on a global level?

Better Place was founded in 2008 by Shay Agassi (formerly of SAP’s product division) and seeks to revolutionise the automotive industry through electrification.

The question:

Can a Future Center spread the start-up virus throughout an organization or a community?

will be explored during a visit to the Keter Plastic Design Innovation lab near Hertzeliya.

Sde Boker (charmingly termed “a Future Oasis in the Negev desert”) is one of the main centres for the development of future water technologies in the world, and will be the setting for an exploration of:

What are the secrets of bold moves for creating future-changing revolutions?

Sde Boker was home to David Ben Gurion who wrote:

The desert provides us with the best opportunity to begin again. This is a vital element of our renaissance in Israel. For it is in mastering nature that man learns to control himself. It is in this sense, more practical than mystic, that I define our Redemption on this land. Israel must continue to cultivate its nationality and to represent the Jewish people without renouncing its glorious past. It must earn this – which is no small task – a right that can only be acquired in the desert.

At the PISGA Educational Future Center in Be’er Sheva, discussion and workshops will be held to explore new ways to connect education, start-up culture and the future.

A visit to the The House of the People in Sderot Rothschild will pose some unique questions:

How a revolution is born?

How protest energy can be leveraged into large scale social transformation?

How to create and sustain a totally radical and anti-establishment future center?

Participants will visit the Ra’anana City Urban Future Center for its official opening, and a number of start-ups located in Rothschild Street in Tel Aviv. The summit concludes with a visit to Hub Tel Aviv, an incubator and space for social-environmental innovation.

On my last visit to Tel Aviv I was fortunate to meet with Tel Aviv’s Mayor Ron Huldai. We spoke about regional technological strengths and challenges, particularly in transportation and education. The summit will provide participants with deep insight into Israeli innovation and the need for global collaboration on challenges such as water technology, sustainability and renewable energy.

The summit organisers are Dr. Ron Dvir, founder of Innovation Ecology, and Yael Schwartzberg, CEO of the Institute for Democratic Education.

Steve Nimmons is a leading technologist and innovator and is Community Relations Director at Anglican Friends of Israel.

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