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Now, More than Ever, It Is Critical to Advance Israeli Innovation

Israel is currently in a state of war, the like of which we have not experienced for two generations. This is not simply another limited operation or round of fighting that we have become used to in recent years, but a protracted war that will last for some time and with all the implications that entails. As the nation quickly mobilized, along with all of Israel’s citizens, those at the top of the Israeli economy – business leaders and high-tech entrepreneurs – were harnessed to assist.

We must also appreciate that we are in a fundamentally different situation compared to the worldwide crisis that came with the Coronavirus pandemic. While the pandemic impacted all countries across the globe, here in Israel we are in a position in which the global market and international investors are operating as normal, and therefore our sturdiness takes on an even greater importance.

In addition to this, the enemy thoroughly understands the significant role that the high-tech industry plays in when it comes to Israeli resilience, and so is constantly looking to dissuade investors and entrepreneurs, thereby halting Israeli innovation. It is in this atmosphere that the resilience of Israel’s industries takes on even greater importance.

We have all been inspired by the dynamic mobilization, which has galvanized the country in a united effort to win this war. Without detracting from the priority of all workers who can serve being called into reserve units for the war effort, it is imperative that those who are not drafted continue to maintain our high-tech industry and create active employment spaces while also preparing for the “day after.” That is to say, operating with the resilience, strength and determination that has enabled Israelis to prevail against all the odds for the preservation and strengthening of the economy.

Israel’s entrepreneurs possess a unique ability to traverse obstacles, adapting to deal with the challenges and uncertainty that crises bring. Time and again, the Israeli workforce has demonstrated its resilience, displaying extraordinary strength and determination in times of war, global economic breakdowns, and during the Coronavirus pandemic. This ability to recover, unifying the home front and maintaining the value of the industry, is embedded deep in the Israeli spirit.

Founding a startup anywhere, let alone in Israel, has never been an easy task. The path is full of pitfalls that the founders and their teams have to overcome. Investors from all over the world are familiar with the value of founders and entrepreneurs who can perform with resilience and flexibility. They understand that the journeys with the most hazards are often also the ones of growth and reward. Israeli startups, motivated by their commitment to the task and their ability to meet challenges, will pull the attention and support needed from investors who are eager to be part of their journey. These investors will further be encouraged by the support brought to Israel from over 200 leading global venture capital funds since the start of the war.

More than anything else, resilience is the key factor in Israel’s industrial strength. As Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said upon receiving his honorary doctorate from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, “resiliency is as important as getting it right the first time…when something you set out to do doesn’t go as planned, don’t choose to walk away and give up; rather choose to find out why it didn’t work and let that knowledge inform your next attempt.” The ability to endure, regroup and emerge stronger than before is – and will continue to be – the key to Israel’s success, from the battlefield to the boardroom.

Faced with the state of war that Israel has been forced into, the Israeli labor market, along with its high-tech and biotech industries, must preserve themselves as symbols of Israel’s resilience and innovativeness. This ability to persevere, by harnessing society and the home front to protect the value of industry is evidence of the Israeli spirit.

All this must be conducted based on a number of actions, beginning immediately. First and foremost, whoever has not been called up for military service must continue working in their civilian capacity. Second, the innovation for which the Israeli high-tech industry is known worldwide as a leader must continue, as well as the advancement of scientific discovery in the Israeli biotech field. Likewise, new ventures must be continued and investors must be encouraged to continue funding new startups, making capital available to lengthen funding runways and to always seek new opportunities for investment.

Founding and growing a startup in Israel can be challenging, but the obstacles encountered are often those that encourage determination, innovation, and groundbreaking new discoveries. We have a fresh opportunity to prove once again that fortitude and resilience are the keys to prosper when faced with adversity, and to once more be a beacon to the world.

About the Author
Mati Gill is CEO of AION Labs, a venture studio with a first-of-its-kind company creation model for new start-ups utilizing AI for drug discovery and development. Prior to founding AION Labs, Mati was a senior executive at Teva Pharmaceuticals and served as Chief of Staff for Israel’s Minister of Public Security. He is an IDF veteran (Maj. res.)`and currently serves on the boards of the Israel Advanced Technology Industries Association (IATI) and the Israel America Chamber of Commerce (AmCham).
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