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Israel is “well positioned” to benefit from the coronavirus accelerating the technological revolution

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As the coronavirus pandemic accelerates the adoption of technologies ranging from online shopping and banking to education and healthcare, Israel will take full advantage of this digital revolution to take a new position “stronger and stronger” from the crisis. According to the Start-Up Nation Central (SNC) paper

“COVID-19 may be an important moment to usher in the true beginning of the digital era,” a nonprofit organization aimed at connecting Israeli start-ups to companies, governments and organizations around the world said in a statement. “Rather than going back and watching this new regular announcement, future-looking countries, industries, businesses, and individuals will take advantage of the digital opportunities created by the crisis to become stronger and more resilient. need to do it.”

“Israel’s society and economy in general, and especially its technical sector, should see the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity,” the statement said. “Israel’s technology ecosystem is in a position to help establish new standards and drive their evolution.”

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Still, Israel needs to be wary of the “division” that is occurring between the technology sector and other economic sectors. This has already led to resentment in some circles and can lead to popular law that requires talent and innovation to remain local. While restraining the flow of foreign investment in the country.

Self-employed Israeli and small business owners will attend a rally for financial support outside Knesset in Jerusalem on April 19, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

According to SNC’s position paper, The New Digital Age, the country has the highest percentage of startups per capita in any country in the world, with an average of about 1,000 startups each year over the last five years. This entrepreneurial entrepreneurship and culture allows Israel to “quickly adapt” to new market challenges and develop its activities.

“A long-standing expertise in software, data, sensors and cybersecurity provides a good starting point for entering the new digital age,” the statement said. Israel also has a unique combination of both a start-up culture and “technical depth” rooted in its strong academic and military intelligence forces.

But to meet this opportunity, Israel needs to maximize the long-term value it gets from the technology sector and spread it to other economies and societies. As of the end of 2019, only 9.2% of the country’s workforce was employed by the technology sector, according to the Israel Innovation Authority’s 2019 Annual Report.

According to the SNC policy paper, this goal of deriving more value from the technology sector could be achieved by helping more companies grow and sustain their core businesses in Israel.

Image of start-up concept (relif; iStock by Getty Images)

To do this, policy makers should focus on creating a “sufficient and balanced supply of human capital” in the industry. At the time of the pandemic, many tech companies reduced or stopped hiring. However, as the new digital age of steroids arrives ahead of the pandemic, “the demand for skilled technical professionals is expected to exceed that of recent years,” the Position Paper said.

The widespread adoption of remotework has created a “unique opportunity” for the technology sector, which has been undervalued in the last decade, to take advantage of the diverse population that is now undervalued in this sector.

“Doing so not only benefits the technology sector, but also has a spillover effect on the affected population groups, dramatically changing the lives of tens of thousands of people. These undervalued populations. The effort required to integrate is important, but social and economic benefits extend far beyond the technology sector. To seize this opportunity, with strong industry cooperation, across many government agencies. We need a creative and coordinated policy, “said the statement.

To derive more value from the technology sector, policy makers also need to set the conditions for companies to secure the funding they need to grow and for startups to test technology and conduct proofs of concept locally. .. This is because, as in the past, foreign travel is curtailed by coronavirus restrictions, which make Israeli tech companies more likely to first look to potential local clients rather than foreign markets. It becomes even more important.

Coronavirus Pandemic Investment Images (Julia_Sudnitskaya; iStock by Getty Images)

Despite months of lockdowns and travel restrictions, Israeli investment in the technology sector continued to be strong in the first half of the year. This may indicate that investors are “forecasting a new digital age and increasing their investment in technology accordingly.” The paper said.

Equity investments in technology companies were $ 4,595 million in the first half of this year, compared to $ 3.45 billion in the first half of 2019 and $ 7.64 billion for the full year 2019, as indicated by SNC data.

This is in line with the K-shaped economic recovery, with the global tech sector recovering significantly and the rest of the global economy struggling for a much longer period of time. “

High uncertainty, worrying about disconnection

Still, uncertainty about future investments remains high, the report said. Also, because Israel’s technology sector relies heavily on foreign investors, primarily from the United States, Israel is vulnerable during a crisis because “investors tend to increase home bias.” Travel restrictions imposed by the coronavirus make making decisions from a distance difficult.

Israel thus takes the opportunity of this current crisis to rely on foreign capital by attempting to attract local institutional investors and encouraging Israeli savings to invest in Israel’s economic engine and its technology sector. Should be reduced. Due to the high risks associated with investing in startups, Israeli institutional investors responsible for investing in Israeli pension and savings funds have traditionally avoided primarily the technology sector.

The authors of the report also warn of a “disconnection” between the country’s fast-growing technology sector and other economies.

Eugene Kandel, CEO of Start-Up Nation Central (Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)

“When the support program for tech companies encountered hostility from the general public, we began to see signs of signs during the early stages of the pandemic,” the author said. This can lead to a “populist law” that seeks to curb foreigners from what is thought to “get all the talent without sharing profits.”

“This scenario poses a serious threat to sector sustainability and the highly sector-dependent Israeli economy,” the authors said.

“Israel’s innovation ecosystem thrived on a fruitful public-private partnership, but as the tech industry grew, it became more global, less Israeli, and that partnership was eroded,” they said.

In the new post-pandemic digital era, confirm that local savings are being invested in the technology sector, step up tech companies’ efforts to hire a minority, and advance traditional Israeli business By connecting with the country, we need to form a new partnership with high-tech solutions that allow everyone to get involved.

“All these solutions have the potential to bring about a new equilibrium that is mutually beneficial to Israeli tech and other societies,” the authors said.

The report’s authors show that Israel has been a pioneer in adapting new technologies faster than other technology ecosystems and has applied them to a variety of industries over the past decade. According to the statement, these include artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), autonomous technology, big data, and the Internet of Things (IoT), bringing them a global edge.

The country is also a leader in a variety of technologies that will become even more important in the post-pandemic era, including cybersecurity, digital health, fintech, Industry 4.0, and agrifood tech.

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