Israel, known world-wide as the startup nation, has earned the title and continues to punch above its weight achieving much more than one would expect from a country of 8.743 million people living in the challenging Middle East.
Proof of that statement was seen earlier this week when San Francisco-based CB Insights, published their AI 100 list of the best emerging companies using artificial intelligence as their base technology. While 75% of the companies on the list are based in the U.S., 7 Israeli companies were honored as well, an amazing statistic for a small country. Even among the U.S. based companies were two whose founders and chief technology officers are Israeli and who also have offices in Israel.
The other big winner among non-U.S. companies was China (also with 7 companies on the list), while Britain with 4, and Canada, Japan, Portugal and Singapore, with one each brought up the rear.
This year’s list was culled from over 1,000 applicants and includes companies using artificial intelligence in industries as diverse as drug discovery, cybersecurity, robotics and legal tech. Inclusion in this list is a prestigious honor and has proven to contribute to a company’s growth as well. Last year’s AI 100 saw 55 of the companies raise additional funding totaling $2 billion while 5 were acquired by larger firms.
But this is not the only field in which Israel excels. Israel is also a rising star in space and satellite technology. Several key developments in recent years highlight Israel’s growing contributions in the field, including the successful launch of the Venus satellite on August 2nd.
Venus, a micro-satellite weighing 586 pounds (265 kilograms), was jointly designed by the Israel Space Agency (ISA) with the help of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and its French counterpart, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) for the purpose of monitoring climate change. The cutting-edge satellite observes 110 sites on five continents every two days, and closely monitors the impact of human activity on vegetation, water and carbon levels.
“The satellite is uniquely suited for monitoring agricultural crops in accordance with the concept of ‘precision agriculture,’ offering high-spatial resolution of 16 feet (five meters) and a 48-hour revisit time,” said Prof. Arnon Karnieli, lead researcher on the satellite project, who heads the laboratory at BGU’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (in a release issued by BGU on October 19th).
“Israel is one of the few countries that has the entire chain of satellite capabilities, which means launch, design, construction and operation,” according to Avi Blasberger, director general of the Israel Space Agency at Israel’s Ministry of Science. “It’s an entirely self-sustained program. Israel is one of the few countries in the world that can be proud of this.”
Preceding the launch of Venus, Israel launched its first nanosatellite, BGUSAT, in mid-February as part of a BGU academic initiative that enables researchers to study climate change as well as agricultural and other scientific phenomena. Slightly larger than a milk cartoon, the nanosatellite is outfitted with a visual and short wavelength infrared camera and hovers at 300 miles above the Earth’s surface – allowing researchers to study a broad array of environmental conditions, including atmospheric gases like carbon dioxide.
The list of such achievements is virtually endless and demonstrates potential for companies abroad to develop industrial cooperation partnerships that benefit both partners to the project. There are even a number of funding agencies, both in Israel and world-wide that provide significant financial support to such cooperative ventures.
Company futurists who are seeking the next technological breakthrough in their fields, would do well to look at Israel as a source for such developments.