Tag Archives: Haifa

A discussion with Prof. Shechtman, 2011 Chemistry Nobel Prize

A solution for a more peaceful world: technological entrepreneurship!

During our 2nd day trip in Israel, we also met Dan Shechtman. He is Philip Tobias Professor of Materials Science at Technion – Israel Institute of technology located in Haifa, one of the most respected Engineering University in the world.

He was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for “the discovery of quasicrystals and he has been teaching the course of Technological Entrepreneurship to C.10000 engineers during the last 26 years.

Prof. Shechtman argued that Entrepreneurship is the best way to create job places and, particularly, technological one which provides better tools to all the other kinds of entrepreneurships to be developed.

At the end of his very interesting speech, he started answering our questions, giving us many insights about Israel start-ups proliferation: he compared Israel to Far East countries, where, if your company goes bankruptcy, it’s a shame for all your family whereas in Israel is the opposite: someone who failed with his company, is considered to have become a better business man.

Last point was about nuclear energy, that, in his opinion, remains the best way to produce energy by far: he condemned countries like Germany and their shortermism simply saying that the question shouldn’t be going or not going for nuclear energy, but how to produce safer centrals.

Question-answer session with Prof. Dan Shechtman, at Technion

Question-answer session with Prof. Dan Shechtman, at Technion

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In the heart of Technion: scientific research in Israel

Early wake up for the innovators on Monday! We left Tel Aviv in order to reach Haifa where we visited Matam,  the largest and oldest hi-tech park in Israel, and Technion- Israel Institute of Technology, a public research University and also the oldest and most famous in Israel.

Welcome at Technion!

Welcome at Technion!

At the Technion we have had the pleasure of attending, with other French students from EDHEC and SUPELEC, two very interesting conferences. The first speaker was Mrs Keren Rubin, the director of BEIC, the Bronica Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center, placed in Technion.

Why Israel?

In the first part of her presentation, Mrs Rubin told us the major reason (now clear to all of us…) that led the Israeli high technological growth in the ’90:

  • a highly developed defence sector and its strong relation with Universities
  • a double digit growth in engineering/science graduates
  • the influx of Russian scientists and engineers that immigrates in Israel in order to find a job
  • the support of governments through specific policy and funds
  • the influx of US VC capital thanks to specific funds dedicated to Israel
  • high tech multinationals investments in R&D
  • the Israeli cultural, social and entrepreneurial capital

Entrepreneurship at Technion

Mrs Rubin then showed us how elevated is the entrepreneurial spirit in Israel and in particular at the Technion: there are several organisations that have all the same goal of develop and boost the technical entrepreneurship among Technion students.
These organisations include the BEIC, the knowledge center for innovation (KCI), the Technion R&D Foundation  (TRDF), the Alfred Mann Institute (AMIT) and the Technion incubator.

The ESCP Europe students listening to a conference at Technion

The ESCP Europe students listening to a conference at Technion

The BEIC: teach, outreach and research

Since Mrs Rubin is in charge of the Bonica Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center, she concluded her presentation explaining us which was her work there. The BEIC have as audience the students, the faculty and the alumni of Technion, and its missions are teach, outreach and research. Regarding the teaching aspect, the BEIC spreads the knowledge and develop the skills needed to have success as  entrepreneurs and boost network relationships thanks to its eClub (campus’ meetings every two weeks), eConference related to innovation and entrepreneurship topics , credited courses and programs, consulting services, bizTec (national business plan competition) and the “Technion for life” mentoring program (alumni that helps students).

Why studying in Israel?

After the conference, we had an informal meeting with French people studying at the Technion. Most of them have had a degree from a prestigious engineer school in France (Ecole Polytechnique, Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, etc) and have decided to continue their studies here in Israel. We asked them what were their motivations. They explain that they had some personal motivation (possibility to live their faith) but above all they came for the very good quality of research in Technion and the strong technological applications of science in Israel.

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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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Day 2: what we have seen or learned in Haifa

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

  • The average age of 1st year students at university is 25 (due to military service).
  • The cost of living is higher than what we imagined, particularly in supermarkets.
  • We are surprised we still have not seen any policeman or soldier in the street.
  • Food seems to be very important in innovative companies (provide free food and drinks to make your employees more innovative!).
  • After the military service, young people often travel all over the world, in Asia, South America, or anywhere else.
  • Houtspa! It’s a Hebrew word to describe the Israeli people’s state of mind. It’s hard to translate. It’s a mix between courage, crazy and nerve.
  • Road signs are written in Hebrew, Arabic and English (lucky us!).
On the road, from Haifa to Tel Aviv

On the road, from Haifa to Tel Aviv

The anecdote of the day:

Around 2,000 French people emigrate to Israel each year. And around 600 coffins travel from France to Israel each year. It concerns French people who decided to be buried in Israel after their death. And guess what? This is a very profitable business for some companies, since families often accompany the deceased to the funeral in Israel.

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