Israel: The Innovation Nation

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard the amazing news that Israel was awarded the #5 spot on the 2019 Bloomberg Innovation Index! This is an increase from last year’s #10 spot on the index. Bloomberg also ranked Israel as #1 for Research and Development! While we all know that Israel is referred to as “The Startup Nation”, maybe it’s time for a new name “The Innovation Nation”. (Or both!)

Israel spends over $12.7 billion annually on R&D, which accounts for 4.3% of their overall GDP. Israel has led the world in R&D spending for years and it’s starting to pay dividends that only Israelis could have once dreamed of!

This recent uptick in global recognition is great news for the people and land of Israel, and all of the US based non-profits that are deeply committed to Israel. One of those non profits is the Jewish National Fund (JNF). Over the last century, JNF-USA has played a major role in driving innovation all throughout Israel! With the $1B Roadmap, there are no signs of letting up and JNF will continue to drive innovation and growth inside Israel for decades to come!

JNF-USA is leading the way in researching and developing leading-edge technology for trees, solar power, salt water irrigation, and more. From the Central Arava R&D Center to the hundreds of water reservoirs that has built to bringing the game of baseball to Israel – JNF-USA is not only a part of Israel’s magical innovation story but we are at the forefront, driving the innovation to new heights.

Recently, JNF-USA announced a partnership with ii2020, an Israel NGO,  to focus on bringing food technology and innovation, business accelerators and incubators, and a world-class Institute of Culinary Arts to the Upper Eastern Galilee.

Construction has already begun with the building of Beit Asher, a Food Innovation and Technology Center, and the future JNF-USA Institute of Culinary Arts, which will be directed by famed Chef Lior Lev Sercarz. With this rollout, Jewish National Fund is playing a direct role in changing the narrative and landscape for the region by creating employment, bringing new residents, and changing the look, feel, and spirit of the area.

The Beit Asher Food Innovation Center will be home to researchers developing food security, Agri-Tech, and new healthier products to help feed the world. Utilizing the strategic partnering of Tel Hai College and the Regional Research Centers for Agriculture and Water in the Upper Eastern Galilee, ii2020 and Jewish National Fund-USA’s collaboration is poised to make the Upper Eastern Galilee a major world food capitol.

Food technology is revolutionizing the way we eat and live, focusing on healthier, cheaper, more environmentally friendly ways to innovate the food industry.  JNF-USA’s investment in these ventures will serve as a platform for local entrepreneurs with early stage start-ups, supporting various aspects of their growth. This will include business development, legal frameworks, marketing, human resources management, fundraising, and facility maintenance.

At every turn, JNF-USA is supporting and driving innovation all throughout the State of Israel. Innovation starts with a dream, a vision and the chutzpah to execute from start to finish.  While the Israeli people continue to work the land, launch new innovative companies, make medical breakthroughs and innovate in ways that only Israelis can – they can rest assured that JNF-USA will be right by their side, through thick and thin – for centuries to come. Am Yisrael Chai!

About the Author
Bryan E. Leib was born in Philadelphia and resides in New York, NY. Currently, Bryan is the Act.IL Program Manager for the Israeli-American Council in New York. In 2018, he was the one of the youngest Jewish-American Congressional Candidates as the Republican Candidate for PA-03 (Philadelphia County) He is the former Treasurer of the Philadelphia Young Republicans and is currently serving as a Board Member of the Young Friends of the National Museum of American Jewish History. He is also a member of the Jewish National Fund-USA Speakers Bureau. The opinions expressed here are his and not representative of any organizations he is affiliated with. Follow him on Twitter: @LeibforPA
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