Tag Archives: learning

Day 7: what we have seen or learned in Jerusalem

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

  • The tramway isn’t working during shabbat. And everything is closed. The city looks empty.
  • They are not kidding in the airport. Security check is long and serious: the airport employees ask questions about your luggage, and then they x-ray it, and then they can open it if there is something unusual.

The anecdote of the day:

You can enjoy the best fresh orange juices in Israel. Oranges are produced in Jaffa. You can buy fresh juice in the street, it will be pressed just in front of you. Perfect when the wether is hot and you want something sweet.

Israeli oranges

Israeli oranges

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In Yad Vashem: understanding the Shoah

On Friday morning, we took the tramway to go to Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

We arrived in front of a very modern building made of concrete and built in 1953. It is located in a mediterranean garden. The place looks very quiet from the outside, but inside it is full of tourists! Most of them are visiting in groups, with a guide. They are from all over the world.

We entered the museum. It tells the story of the Shoah (the Hewbrew word for Holocaust). It begins with anti-Semitism in Europe, continues with the rising of Hitler, the first Jewish ghettoes, the death camps, and finally the liberation. Most of us already knew this history, but here it is very well presented: it swhow objects, posters, books, maps, archive movies, and video testimonies from people who lived during this period.

The museum itself has a special architecture: it is made of relatively small rooms, around a long corridor with an open ceiling. So visitors follow a zigzag path, from dark rooms to a very sunny corridor, like a breath of fresh air.

Yad Vashem, the corridor

Yad Vashem, the corridor

At the end of the museum, we entered the Hall of names. It is a round room. There are pictures of people on the ceiling, and a hole with water on the floor. On the walls, there are shelves. On each shelve, there are dozens of files. And in each files, there are Pages of Testimony. A Page of Testimony is written by a relative of a Jew who died during the Holocaust. It contains a name, a picture, and biographical details. Yad Vashem estimates that we still do not have the name of all the people concerned. So since its establishment, its mission has been encouraging people in bearing witness about Shoah’s victims they know. The Hall of names is very impressive, because you can realize how much people died, and how much remains unknown (a lot of shelves are empty).

Yad vashem, the Hall of names

Yad vashem, the Hall of names

In another building, there is the Children’s memorial, in the memory of all the children who died during the war. Visitors enter a very dark room, illuminated with a great number of small lights. They hear a voice saying the name of the children.

This visit in Yad Vashem was very moving for all of us. When we went out of the museum, the blinding sun contrasted with the hard images we had seen inside.

The view from Yad Vashem

The view from Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem, the outside

Yad Vashem, the outside

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Day 6: what we have seen or learned in Jerusalem

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

  • everything is built thanks to donations: universities, research institutes, memorials
  • there are more policemen in Jerusalem than in Tel Aviv.
  • people are always controlled in the tramway (don’t forget your ticket!)
  • for shabbat (resting day in the Jewish tradition), orthodox Jews wear bigger hats.
  • some people really make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
  • you have to bargain when buying souvenirs in the old city.
  • men and women are separated on the Western Wall.
  • you can visit a catholic church when hearing the muezzin‘s call to prayer.
  • 10 minutes in Jerusalem worth less than 10 minutes in Tel Aviv: distances are shorter.
  • even if you’re not Jewish, you have to wear a kippa to go to the Western Wall (for men only).
  • during shabbat, you can’t eat before food is blessed.
An othodox Jew in front of the Western Wall, Jerusalem

An othodox Jew in front of the Western Wall, Jerusalem

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Day 5: what we have seen or learned in the Dead Sea

Here is a list of what we have seen or learned today in the Dead Sea:

  • Israel is the country of wifi. You can find a free hotspot almost everywhere.
  • “the dead sea is dead” quoting Ricardo. Actually it’s so salted that no fishes or plants can live in the water.
  • To celebrate the end of Independence day in Israel, people organize picnic with their family.
  • there is a big business in beauty creams made with Dead Sea minerals or mud.
  • people really float in the Dead Sea, it’s not a myth.
  • we have seen a Better Place station (where you can switch your electric car battery) on the road between Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea.

The anecdote of the day: so much sun!

We used more solar cream in one day in the Dead Sea than in one summer month in Paris, no kidding!

The Innovators Nation Team floating in the Dead Sea

The Innovators Nation Team floating in the Dead Sea

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Day 4: what we have seen or learned in Tel Aviv

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

  • Israeli cuisine is not just hummus. It’s also shakshuka!
  • 1/3 of the population of Tel Aviv is less than 25.
  • A lot of shops are closed during independance day (on April 25th), and everybody celebrates it. The State of Israel is still very young (it was created in 1947).

The anecdote of the day: innovation in a taxi

We spend some time in taxis to go from a company to another, and as most of the taxi drivers can speak English, we talk to them and they told us some interesting stories. For example, Giorgio met a taxi driver who told him he just created his high-tech company! He gave him his visiting card.

Guy met another taxi driver who showed him rearview mirror coversprinted with the Israeli flag saying “look at that, they just invented it!”.

Start-ups are created everywhere, even in a taxi.

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Weizmann Institute: paradise for scientists

Scientific research in Israel: specific effort for the commercialization of scientific inventions

J-3. It was after meeting with entrepreneurs in the incubator in Nazareth NGT and tasted the food through the famous Israeli hummus that we visited the Weizmann Institute.

At Weizmann Institute

At Weizmann Institute

Weizmann is its founder’s name. Who is Mr Weizmann, the founder of the university? Mr. Weizmann was the first president of Israel. He promoted many innovations by giving a vision and taking actions. He is considered one of the founders of biotechnology.

inside the Weizmann Institute

inside the Weizmann Institute

the Innovators Nation team in the stairs, Weizmann house

the Innovators Nation team in the stairs, Weizmann house


The essential role of basic research to innovation

Located not far from Tel Aviv at Rehovot, the university dedicated to research is famous worldwide. To begin our visit, we had to go through the huge campus that is quite similar to US counterparts. In the most recent building, the Koffler accelerator, we realized that here science is a main concern. In the center of cancer research and genetics, we met Dr. Daniela Novick.

Then the heart of the building is a dream laboratory: freshly cleaned glassware, experiments in progress, ovens everywhere. In this atmosphere, Dr. Novick told us about her research. We learned how this brilliant scientist has fostered both fundamental and applied science. Compared to other institutes in the world, this is the major distinction of the Weizmann Institute, the emphasis is primarily focused on basic research, scientists are free to explore areas of interest. This is the curiosity of researchers that led to major discoveries in science.  These results led to applications for the general public that were not expected. Without basic research inventions like the microwave or pace makers could not have been launched.

Science is an integral part of the Israel  common thinking and is highly valued. Scientists are very well known and well perceived in society. The Weizmann Institute seeks to get still closer contact between scientists and the general public. This initiative is a good example: on March 30th, 2012, scientists will explain in many cafes in Tel Aviv their science projects to Israeli citizens.

The ability to commercialize scientific discoveries

The discoveries, resulst of basic research, are subsequently commercialized. In this field, the Technology Transfer Office plays an important role. Composed mainly of lawyers, they assist scientists in protecting their inventions and license sales.

The mindset of innovators in Israel

When asked about particular Israeli behavior that are conducive to the emergence of innovations, his answer is simple:

  • Improvising always-Never be paralyzed by the rules, invent alternatives
  • Stay focus of research is paramount, we must not turn away from the main purpose
  • Invest heart and soul – the experiments are not waiting, work on weekends is sometimes required

A little paradise

All the scientist can live in theur own villa on the center. The place is very nice: gardens, modern buildings, labs, museums, etc. We also visited the house of Mr Weizmann, founder of the institute, built in the ’30. A very modern building, full of souvenirs, in a beautiful garden.

Wiezmann house

Wiezmann house

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Day 3: what we have seen or learned in Nazareth

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

  • hummus is heavy.
  • you can’t enter a church dressed with a skirt.
  • you can easily meet a priest and add him on Linked In, as Ricardo did.
  • the separation beteween arabic and Jews is visible in the city.
  • green is the color of Islam. Arabic cities are illuminated with green lights at night.

The anecdote of the day: passport n°001

Chaim Weizmann, who gave his name to the famous Weizmann Institute we visited, was the 1st president of the State of Israel. So his Israeli passport had the number 001. Quite easy to remember!

The city of Nazareth

The city of Nazareth

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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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