Tag Archives: army

Discovering the internal innovation process at Qualcomm

A new busy day starts with the visit of Qualcomm, an American high-tech company. Its headquarters in Israel are located in the MATAM (international technology center) in Haifa. We had a 2 hours bus ride from Tel Aviv to join Haifa, which is located on a very beautiful place, very close to the sea. Nir Ofry, member of the Innovation Team, makes us a quick presentation of the company. Qualcomm is a global telecommunication corporation that designs, manufactures and markets digital wireless products and services. It is like Intel 25 years ago, as the world’s largest fables semiconductor company and first in wireless technology. They help developers to develop many applications and Nir showed us some of them like iOnRoad, an app which indicates the distance between you and the car in front of you. Very usefull but a little bit scary: it can prevent car accidents.

Qualcomm headquarters in Haifa

Qualcomm headquarters in Haifa

Qualcomm employs 22,000 people and tries very hard to maintain the entrepreneurship spirit. Why is that? Because technology companies cannot be late in any sectors. So Qualcomm developed Qualcomm Innovation Network (QIN), a system for promoting corporate entrepreneurship and innovation. To know more about the internal innovation process at Qualcomm, read the dedicated article on Israel Valley.

At least, Nir told us about his personal story. He had to go to the army when he was 18 and became responsible of a huge information system in Tsahal (the Israeli army). As his mission had to remain a secret, he couldn’t tell anyone about his activities, so he developed the ability to solve problems on his own.

In Israel, geniuses are detected at a young age (around 10) at school, and they are then directed to special units in the army to develop their high potential.

The Innovators Nation team with Nir at Qualcomm, in Haifa

The Innovators Nation team with Nir at Qualcomm, in Haifa

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Being a young entrepreneur in Israel : the story of Jonathan

At the University of Tel Aviv, we met Jonathan. He is a French entrepreneur living in Tel Aviv.

He explained us his personnal story. He was born in Paris. After highschool, he went to scientific preparatory classes at Lycée Chaptal during one year, and then realized it wasn’t what he wanted to do. So he decided to move to Israel in 2002. During one year, he learned Hebrew, so then he could enter the Technion (it is like the Ecole Polytechnique in France, we will visit it tomorrow). Then he had to go to the military service, which is compulsory in Israel. He worked for the intelligence services as an officer.
After that he went back to school for a neuroscience licence, which was very practical.
And now he is launching his own company : Erez, strategic consulting based on exponential thinking. Exponential thinking is a theory based on the fact that innovations comes faster and faster to the market. For example, Facebook has been adopted by 50 millions of people in only 3years. So, according to Jonathan, companies should anticipate the future, and imagine which kind of product could exist in 5 or 20 years, better than having a strategy based on today’s world.

Why moving from France to Israel?
Each immigrant here has its own reasons for coming to Israel (business opportunities, religion, quality of life…). Jonathan wanted to take part in this amazing project called Israel.

The military service experience
Jonathan told us about the years he spent in the army. It can be hard for French students like us to imagine taking a break of at least 3 years in the middle of your studies to go to the army, but this is actually a very important step in every Israeli young people’s life. For example, Jonathan told us he met his best friends in the army. He also got high responsibilities at a very young age (22), so he gained a lot in self-confidence. The army allows young people to go beyond their limits and to become more mature, which can explain why Israeli people are more innovative.

How to do good networking?
Networking is very important in Israel. Jonathan says it begins with a good handshake! But the best way to create a good network is to establish a win-win relationship: if you expect someone to help you, first help him. It can be as simple as connecting people.
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Jonathan, entrepreneur in Israel

Jonathan, entrepreneur in Israel

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Day 1: what we have seen or learned in Tel Aviv

Here is a list of what we have seen or learned today in Tel Aviv:

  • It’s warm and sunny
  • Private donations from the diaspora (Jewish people all over the world are 14.5 millions) are very important in the Israeli development.
  • “The country is considering itself to be a research lab” (Daniel Rouach)
  • There is a strong patriotism (for example, you can see Israeli flags everywhere)
  • Hebrew language is really hard to understand, it looks like Chinese for us!
  • the compulsory military service impacts a lot the economy
  • Israeli people speak a good English and are very friendly
  • Sunday is Monday (Israeli people work on Sunday)
  • Israeli websites end with .il
Trying to read Hebrew at McDonald's

Trying to read Hebrew at McDonald's

The anecdote of the day: the English cats

In Tel Aviv, we have seen a lot of wandering cats in the streets. We have been told this story : under the English protectorate, there was a lot of rats, it was really a big problem. So English people decided to import a lot of cats to Tel Aviv. Rats disappeared, and cat are still there : in the street, in the university campus, everywhere.

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At Tel Aviv University with Prof. Waldman: why is Israel different?

We had the opportunity to meet Ron Waldman, professor at Tel Aviv University specializing in High Tech. He is from the USA and lives in Israel since 30 years. This first macroeconomic insight into Israel is a good introduction: Ron Waldman has introduced well-known companies representing the success of innovation in Israel, such as Given Imaging or Better Place (we will visit it in the coming days).

According to Prof. Waldman, Israel is “a small country but a vibrant economy”. Just a few figures:

  • unemployment rate = 5.6%
  • GDP growth = 3%
  • 34% of the population holds a university degree
  • there are 8 universities in the country
  • Israel has the highest number of engineers per capita (more than in the USA or than in Japan)

So why is Israel so different?

First, what emerges are the economical and governmental logics which make Israel an innovative country. This translates into the ability to quickly introduce innovations to the market (role of Technology Transfer Offices to assist the commercialization of university research results), the ability to finance and sell innovative companies to reinvest, the diversity of innovative sectors (IT , Web 2.0, Health, Mobile, Games), incubators (the state is funding 85% of the initial startups capital), tax benefits, public support for R & D and the existence of a developed market for private funding (investment funds, business angels).

But what is striking in our meetings during this day is that, beyond the rational aspects, which can be found in other innovative regions in the world, culture, history and Jewish religion make Israel very special. These unquantifiable and elusive ingredients really make a difference.

First, the phenomenon “Jewish mothers”: every mother wants for her son, in exchange for the effort for his education, a career as a doctor or engineer. This gives a spirit of winning and a lot of confidence to young people. The fact that this is a multicultural immigrant society (multiple socio-economic backgrounds, and pioneering spirit “from scratch”), with no hierarchical relationship in business, promoting spontaneous critics regardless of the rank and where everyone is called by first name rather than using the usual marks of respect (sir).

Moreover, the role of the army, including compulsory military service for young people (3 years for men and 2 for women), is important. The idea is that if the student is bright, he will integrate a technology or intelligence center, allowing him to get a great network in high tech. Generally the army builds trust between the young soldiers who will be able to advise and maintain a network of strong relationships for future business. The army can quickly give high managerial positions to young people, so they gain confidence. Moreover, according to the speakers, the army learns to never give up and relativize during hard times. The army also teach to be constantly on alert so that Israeli people are eager to live, are not afraid and do not hesitate to try.

Finally, the role of the diaspora and the idea that every Jew in the world feels like being Israeli are important. Economic zionism stimulates innovation through numerous funding of universities, startups … Thus, the R & D centers of major companies have settled in Israel soon. This is the case of Google for example, whose founders are Jewish.

Tel Aviv University Campus

Tel Aviv University Campus

Tel Aviv University: the business school

Tel Aviv University: the business school

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