Start-Up Nation Central
by Valeria Apolinario and Caroline Webster
For our last official stop in Israel, we headed to Start-Up Nation Central (SNC) in the business district of Tel Aviv. First impression: is this where an economics degree will get you? When we first entered the building, we were confronted by a large, colorful wall that displayed the focus and mission of SNC. The fifth-floor office floor was mostly glass with black accents. We were directed into a meeting room that overlooked the Mediterranean Sea and a bowl of snacks was scattered along the table. Needless to say, it was the most modern site of the trip.
Our speaker, Uri Gabai, greeted us warmly and began his presentation on the success of Israel as a nation of innovation. From the statistics that Uri presented, it was evident that Israel is very impressive. Since the 1990s, start-ups in technology and innovation have exploded in both number and ingenuity. This is partially due to the amount of investment; Israel invests around 4.5% of its GDP in national start-up Research & Development, 1% more than any other developed country besides South Korea. Investment in Israeli technology has led to creativity and innovation in areas including agritech, fintech ( technology used in finances), and artificial intelligence, which has become the focus of hi-tech start-ups in Israel. SNC’s mission is to connect these start-ups with governmental organizations and other businesses. These industries are growing exponentially and according to Uri, artificial intelligence is undoubtedly the future. In fact, it is already being widely used today. We had already seen the process of machines running independently in a manufacturing plant at Netafim, where there were hardly any workers.
Aside from their economic and technological success, the demographics of the people working in these start-ups in Israel remain mostly homogenous. Around 75% of hi-tech start-up employees are non-ultra orthodox Jewish male. Less than 25% are female and very few are ultra orthodox Jewish or Arab. As a group of very diverse, mostly female trekkers in STEM, this was not a pleasing statistic to see. As we absorbed the meaning of the statistic, Uri delivered this message to us: be bold. There is no reason why this should be the case, as women have equal creativity, knowledge, and intelligence to bring to every field. We need to push forward and demand our place in the future.
Uri’s second message to us was to never stop learning. It was an inspiring part of his presentation, and something we all hope to live by in our future studies and career. We are all rising sophomores and juniors and have time left in our formal education. But after we graduate, we should never stop learning. We should never stop asking questions and our curiosity should never wane. With so many opportunities to learn and grow, stagnation is impossible.
Our main take away from Start-Up Nation? The hi-tech world is advancing daily, and it is up to us to dive in and immerse ourselves. We will not just become part of the story: we will write it.
Brief Introduction about Netafim:
Netafim is a global leader in irrigation solutions for sustainable agriculture. Founded in 1965 by farmers for farmers, Netafim developed the world’s first drippers, creating a paradigm shift toward precision agriculture. Since then, Netafim has introduced breakthrough drip lines that irrigate fields with challenging topographies and groundbreaking fertigation systems that have reshaped precision irrigation to grow more with less. In 2003, the company went digital with its automated fertigation system and crop management software to help growers improve the quality of their produce. We continue to revolutionize irrigation in more than 110 countries through a worldwide network of 29 subsidiaries and 17 manufacturing plants – enabling farmers to grow more with less. Please visit Netafim’s website to learn more: https://www.netafim.com/en/