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Technology and Innovation. The Case of Israel and potential partnerships

Rome, 20/02/2018, International Roundtable

Creating and nurturing a local innovation ecosystem with wide potential spinoffs for the economy is a great challenge, but real success stories are still relatively rare. Israel may well be one such case, particularly looking at Tel Aviv and Silicon Wadi. More broadly, the Israeli economy has come to share several traits with the most advanced and creative innovation centers.

Startups are a hallmark of XXI century innovation processes, and Israel is one of the global leaders in this respect, ensuring great dynamism and a constant injection of skills and talent. However, it is well known that the transition from startups to larger and more structured companies is a necessary  step  which requires the availability of investors and wider business networks in order to reach global markets. One of the ingredients of the Israeli system is the “Innovation Authority” supported by the state, through effective public-private partnerships.

A key element of Israel’s success is the demographic outlook of the country: a young population and a constant inflow of immigrants over several decades. When coupled with good education and training, this has generated a vast reserve of human capital that favors innovation. Overall economic data show very clearly that there has been exceptional and sustained progress (in GDP growth as well employment, budget balance and foreign reserves) since the mid-1980s.

International investment flows (at much higher levels than into Europe) are a testimony to Israel’s attractiveness as an innovation hub. Italian investments, starting from a relatively low base, are set to increase significantly over the next few years. And there are major opportunities to intensify economic exchanges in industry, science and technology, academia.

Trade relations are solid – Italy is the third European partner for Israel – and there is significant complementarity between the two economies, especially in light of Italy’s excellence in manufacturing. Among the most promising areas are infrastructures (particularly in the energy sector), biomedical products, aerospace, telecoms, and cybersecurity.

The Roundtable offered an opportunity to address in a frank manner and closed-door setting some key questions to cultivate and further existing ties:

  • The Israeli model, particularly as regards public-private partnerships;
  • Evolving bilateral relations, opportunities and issues to be addressed;
  • Possible collaborations in the areas of hi-tech, including cybersecurity;
  • New energy scenarios in the Mediterranean region, with complex geopolitical implications.