What Makes Israel's Startup Culture So Competitive?

Author:Ms Rebecca Kacaba, Mathew Goldstein and Timothy Jones
Profession:Aird & Berlis LLP

During a press conference at Wealthsimple's headquarters in Toronto, Mayor John Tory announced that a convoy of government officials and tech sector luminaries will be heading to Israel from November 12 - 17 for a week-long trade mission.

In addition to Mayor Tory, Montreal mayor Dennis Coderre, OMERS Ventures managing director Jim Orlando, and representatives from SecureKey, INCubes, Plooto and Vuru will join the delegation. They hope to convince Israeli companies, particularly those in the FinTech and cybersecurity sectors, to collaborate with Canadian companies.

This certainly isn't the first major Canadian trade mission to Israel. Local politicians and entrepreneurs continue to recognize the country as a hotbed of innovation activity.

The statistics back it up. Every year, the investment research firm PitchBook publishes a report of the top global universities for producing VC-backed entrepreneurs, and Tel Aviv University ranked #9, the only non-U.S. school on the top ten list producing almost twice the number of venture-backed companies as the University of Waterloo. Two other Israeli institutions round out the top 50.

So the question for Canadian entrepreneurs and policymakers is - why Israel? What makes Israel so fertile for innovation, follow-on investment and commercialization, and can Canadians take inspiration from the country's startup culture?

StartupSource's Mat Goldstein, a member of Aird & Berlis LLP's Corporate Finance group and Startups team, participated in a trade delegation to Israel earlier this year. Mat is convinced that Tel Aviv University's remarkable success in generating venture investment, as compared to Canadian peer institutions, is a result of national culture - but certainly, there are lessons to be learned from how the university stimulates and manages dialogue between research and industry.

"One area where Canadian universities and research institutions...

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