By Nicholas Christodoulidis – Head of Economic and Commercial Affairs Office

Embassy of Greece in Tel Aviv

For all the talk about the Start-up Nation, one may know very little about how the ecosystem actually works, especially if one is a new-comer to Israel.

The workshop jointly offered by EIT, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology Hub Israel, and Innovation Without Borders (IWB) is designed for European Diplomats to provide a secure footing in the Israeli innovation ecosystem.

Make no mistake, this is not an illustrated primer. It is described as an “ecosystem and Innovation bootcamp” but is actually a full immersion to a network that is complicated as it is bustling. The workshop is structured in a way that introduces all the players in the system and provides valuable insight into the way it operates.

Day one is a particularly thorough introduction to the stakeholders including government agencies involved, NGOs, a description of how education interacts with business innovation, the role of the IDF as an accelerator and talent finder, tips about doing business in Israel. Learning how the public supports innovation is only one of the valuable takeaways.

Day two is a deeper dive into the tech talent ecosystem. What is provided is an understanding of how clusters of start-ups in smart mobility, agrotech, health interact, and how co-investment, incubators, POCs produce collaboration as well as how the VC market is segmented across tiers. Participants in the workshop are encouraged to interact in laying the basics of the “Innovators Compass Canvas”. This is an invaluable session in learning how to reach start-ups, how to leverage content, how to organize a meaningful event, how to make the stakeholders engage with you. One learns how to wade through the intricacies of the ecosystem. Sharing time with representatives of European MNC innovation hubs is an added value that completes the picture.

The visit to Haifa on Day three provides insight into how the Israeli ecosystem is broader than the hub of Tel Aviv. One realizes how density is created in the tech parks in Haifa, how synergies work with tech accelerators, and Public-Private Partnerships in startups as well as what VCs are out on the look for.

The workshop is indeed tailored for EU diplomats with science and innovation portfolios. Day Four includes a very interesting session with counterparts who have worked in Israel and have extremely valuable experiences to share. Equally valuable is the presentation of the European Commission on current and future programs especially the Horizon initiative. The interaction with European counterparts, either those who had been active in the past or the actual co-participants whose thoughts, inputs, and ideas create common surplus value.

Participating in this workshop surpassed my expectations. Meetings with all the key stakeholders, interactive sessions, and planning out work roadmaps provide a clear insight into the ecosystem and especially supply one with the tools for navigating it successfully and productively.

And of course, there is no shortage of acronyms, KPIs, CVCs, POCs, and my personal favorite, the fear of missing out…FOMO.