Connect & experience; How a startup nation is systematically organized and maintained



Work and industriesEntrepreneurs
Picture from five-day learning program to Israel. City view from the 61th floor window

Travel report

I had the honor to take part in a five-day learning program to Israel as part of a delegation of European ecosystem leaders. This program is part of the European Innovation and Technology Institution – and is organized by EIT Hub Israel, portfolio program: #connectandexperience. The aim of the program is to build international connections and learn how a strong and committed innovation ecosystem is being built. This program strengthens the connectedness of economic activity between Europe and Israel such as cross-border trade and the spread of technologies, that creates global interdependence in markets, capital, and commodities.  Traditionally Diplomatic activity has been claimed as the domain of economic relations, but thanks to new forms and advocacy groups like The European Innovation and Technology Institution, international activities are now being built on grassroot level as they enable individuals and groups to initiate international activities.

Here are may main takeaways of each day, 20.11-25.11.2021

Visiting Jerusalem, deep dive to history, culture and habits, community and the variety of cultures that create Israel. Jerusalem tour by Maya Israel Tours

Market place in Jerusalmen

Visiting the Market place in Jerusalmen

First day “Mapping your ecosystem”. This drill created understanding of each of the delegation’s participants’ role as an ecosystem leader, and even though our roles were many we all aim for the common goal: integrating innovation to local ecosystems, multiplying it internationally while working for the common good, reducing inequality.

Michal Seror, from Start Up Nation Central brought some interesting insights on Israel as a startup nation: Only 9.2% of total Israel workforce is in high-tech, but still, it is the startup nation that is creating 52% of export, thus being the main driver of the Israeli economy.

Israel does not have strong manufacturing like Germany. Israel is strong in tech related fields, IP, AI and Innovation is in these areas, thus it is agile, able to shift technology when needed.

And did you know that in addition to private equity, mergers and acquisition, startups go global by listing? Israeli companies are the 3rd majority in Nasdaq!

Visiting the Israel Innovation aurhority: the equivalent to the Finnish Authority “Business Finland” a body that grants public funding. Did you know that there are no long term governmental economic strategies? Hence, grants are also not restricted by any specific topics or categories, nor do they have any strict requirements. This means that any idea might become eligible, allowing the entrepreneur to do what she/he wants to do without having to deviate from hers/his original and true mission and philosophy only to fulfill the requirements for a funding instrument. I call this the DNA of Innovation! And do you see how this enables opportunities to all, not only to a small number of organizations that can meet the set requirements?


Picture from five-day learning program to Israel.

 Second day, The Ecosystem Summit. The European delegation meeting and networking with the Israeli ecosystem, with local innovation leaders, connecting and innovating together.

Picture from five-day learning program to Israel. The ecosystem summit

Themes and presentations:

“Ecosystems as Start up Support Systems”

Michal Seror, Start up Nation Central

Noa Hilzenrat,

Captain Ranit Elkayam,

The Dark Side of Ideation

Dr. Amnon Dekel, ASPER – HUJI

Matan Hakimi

The New Era of Acceleration

Dr Gil Avnimelech, Ono Academic Collage

Chen Shmilo – 8200 Impact

And our very own Dora M and Daniel S of course!

Attracting Funds to your Ecosystem

Nimrod Cohen, TAU Ventures

Nir Gartzman – The Dock

Michal Michaeli – Tel Aviv Global

And our very own Dora Trachana!

8 Lessons learned from ecosystem managersInbal Perlman, TAU Ventures

Open Innovation –  Lior Weizman,

Tech Assessments for startupsAlejandro Marabi, Pepsico

Picture from the ecosystem summit


Picture from the ecosystem summit

Third day. The Israel Innovation Institute. Their organizational model can be compared to the EIT, with professional communities according to verticals. The Institute supports entrepreneurs and startups with finding resources, making connections, and exchanging knowledge with industry players. The institute also initiates open innovation process in organizations based on identifying challenges and needs and matching them to the most relevant solutions. This is also the hub for ecosystem information flow.

Picture from five-day learning program to Israel. Third day, the israel innovation institute

Does this say all about innovation?

The workshop began with an overview of the Institute’s 8 pillar model, that divides ecosystem building into practical themes/verticals

Picture from five-day learning program to Israel. 8 pillars and the tools to each pillar.

8 pillars and the tools to each pillar.

These themes helps us realize what are the main barriers in our ecosystem.

Picture from five-day learning program to Israel. Five dimension of barriers.

Nir Koren, CEO, Israel Innovation Institution:“When you have a clear understanding of your main barriers you can then start mapping out a plan on how to solve it.

Each barrier can be solved with a specific tool, and this is where it gets interesting,. If nothing is moving forward in your ecosystem perhaps you are using the wrong tools. What is the main challenge you are tackling with in your local ecosystem?? Define it, start using the specified tools systematically to tackle the challenge. Once you break the first barriers things will start flowing naturally, people will join, attraction will amplify and you are on your way to building a thriving ecosystem that promotes economic growth while also improving the quality of life for citizens with sustainable values.

Picture from five-day learning program to Israel. Susanah Aalto

Myself as a public sector representative working on the tools for solving  public policy challenges

We then heard from representatives of four different Israeli ecosystems and participated in round table workshops led by the ecosystem representatives. We heard of their challenges and how they got over their barriers. Yael Ophir Health Il, the ecosystem wasn’t delivering any conversions, they started collecting real challenges form e.g. hospitals and asked teams/ startups to solve these real challenges and work in Hospitals as beta sites, a ground for implementation and market access was created.
“Lets Go Vertical Hunt”.

The ecosystems:

Sinai Gohar Barak Desertech

Eviatar Tron EcoMotion

Tamar Moise PlaneTech

Yael Ophir from HealthIL

Day four. Travel to Haifa

Road2 an innovation center that empowers startups to accelerate breakthroughs and evolve professionally. It is also an impact fund composed of veteran entrepreneurs, investors and thought leaders. Road 2 was originally initiated as government project to leverage on the untapped business opportunities in Haifa and the immense potential of the city with its culture, surroundings, people and the world renowned Technion University.

Picture from five-day learning program to Israel. Day four

Eitan Kyiet, the CEO shared with us the fundamentals of creating a tech ecosystem, the government’s influence and the human fabric that shape the diverse landscape that surrounds them. He gave us an truly interesting outlook on how to onboard giant corporates that know and have everything. Why would they let themselves be challenges by young entrepreneurs and innovations that they can produce by themselves? “You have to find the area of business that is not their core but close enough to it to get them interested. Don’t go and teach them, they can teach you, but show them where they can strive and grow”.

Technion University.

Never heard of an University that has generated so many commercialized global solutions!

We visited BizTEC at the University’s T-Hub, which is Israel’s top technological entrepreneurship program led at the Technion which might just be the reason behind these innovations. BizTEC creates the next generation of technology entrepreneurs. It is the starting point for many successful entrepreneurs with startups in many different verticals. We heard from Ohad Yaniv, manager of the BizTec program that the extensive network of partners, mentors, and alumni that they provide lead the teams from ideas to commercial realization. Many students have founded innovative startups based on technological breakthroughs by the support of the network

The BizTEC alumni network keeps on growing, with more than 50 startups and over $500M raised.
During the program, participants undergo an intensive process venture creation, starting from idea formation to the production of an early-stage proof of concept. Workshops focus on marketing, legal resources, financials, and strategy. At the end of the program, the teams pitch to investors, in a demo day that is open to the entire Israeli entrepreneurship ecosystem. The winning team is awarded prize money, but all teams are awarded with the tools they need to launch their first technology venture.
BizTEC’s partners are domain leaders in the startup ecosystem. They are a valuable source of professional expertise, sharing their knowledge and experience with the teams and guiding them along their entrepreneurial journey.

Two young entrepreneurs pitched their startup “Harmony” and we heard how the tools and safety net that they receive at the T-Hub enable them to grow and improve their startup. So how did you actually were able to test your idea? “Well basically we ringed up the local hospital and the next day we were on site testing,” I call this a true ecosystem!

Picture from five-day learning program to Israel. Day four

 Day five. Branding your ecosystem workshop by Eyal Goldman

Picture from five-day learning program to Israel. City view from the 61th floor window

Branding your ecosystem on 61st floor. Took me a while to claim all the steps

he framework and model presented help us orient and facilitate conversations among local innovators, entrepreneurs and their supporters on the current realities and opportunities for future development. to initiate collective action you need to develop strategies and to enunciate shared visions for the future of the ecosystem; explore the advantages, challenges, and possibilities of collective action; co-generate and evaluate ideas for possible new initiatives and collaborations; and build foundational connections and collaborative structures to support their continued work together to strengthen the ecosystem.

To be continued Barcelona 15-17.2.2022

European “ESCL: Playground” follow up conference

 This is the annual highlight of the ESCL community network, bringing together professionals from across Europe and Israel; the ESCL innovation community is a network, an active EU-IL online and offline community offering easy access to opportunities, curated content, matchmaking, soft landing services and support.

Picture from five-day learning program to Israel. Picture some of the participants. Photo credits: Idan Canfi.

 The participation of City of Vantaa is funded by Post Corona Proptech project which is partially funded by Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional council’s ”Alueiden kestävän kasvun ja elinvoiman tukeminen” – UKKE-Grant funding instrument.