January 26, 2003

It’s time for high-tech, academic and government leaders to share information.The Israeli high tech industry, even more so than industries in other countries, faces many challenges at this time. By joining forces, industry, academia and government can come up with a wider range of solutions and models to these challenges, based on multidisciplinary team work, rigorous analysis and study, international comparisons and historical perspective.

Thinking along these lines, a new forum has been created which will strengthen the Israeli high tech industry and provide a platform for cooperation between academia, government and the private sector, both locally and internationally.

A major step in the creation of the forum was made during a workshop held at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in December. The workshop, entitled ‘Globalization, High Tech Growth and R&D policy’, focused on the latest scientific contributions to the study of the evolution of high tech firms and sectors.

Six leading academics, from the U.S., India, the UK, Denmark and France, joined their colleagues from the Hebrew University, led by Professor Morris Teubal; and Ben-Gurion University, led by Dr Dafna Schwartz. Leading business people, VCs and government officials took part in sessions of the workshop which was sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Studies and the Department of Economics of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and by the Bengis Center for Entrepreneurship and High Tech Management in the School of Management of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Disciplines represented at the workshop included economics; business strategy; sociology and communications. In the session covering the analysis and dynamics of high-tech sectors and industries, papers were given on “Industry Evolution and Geographical Distribution of Activity: Lessons from the US Automobile, Television and Laser Industries”; on the emergence and development of Israel’s new high tech cluster; on the wireless communications industry cluster in Aalborg, Denmark, and on the evolution of biotechnology networks, based on an extensive Israeli study. The final session of the workshop, entitled “Globalization, institutions and policy,” included papers on organizational life cycles and strategic alliances in the US biotech industry; the role of the IDF in the Israeli software innovation system, and a comparative analysis of venture capital policy in Israel.

One of the speakers at the workshop, Nachman Shelef, a partner at Benchmark Capital, coined a term for this convergence of shared information among high-tech, academic and government leaders – “substantiated knowledge. ” The results of such collaboration can be used by company executives and board members to make better business decisions.

The forum is the first stage of a center which will be created for High Tech, Biotechnology and Globalization Studies in the Social Sciences Faculty of the Hebrew University. Its purpose is to undertake in-depth studies of Israeli high tech industries in close collaboration with industry, VCs and government.

One of the main areas of research will be Israel’s VC industry. In fact, several pieces of research on this topic have already been completed. In addition to research, and the creation of new tools such as data bases, it is envisaged that the center will perform training of PhD and MA students and provide consultancy services. The center will actively seek cooperation with other organizations around the world.

Planning for the next workshop is already underway in order to capitalize on the momentum created. The high tech forum will follow in the successful footsteps of the models developed over the last 30 years in Israel for the encouragement of research and development and high-tech industry such as the Office of the Chief Scientist and the Yozma program, which led to the development of the Israeli venture capital industry.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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