By: Nachum Liebman  | 

Unpack With YUPAC: The Startup Nation

As is an oft-repeated moniker, Israel is world-renowned as the “Startup Nation.” The amount of incredible and revolutionary companies that have been founded in Israel is truly astonishing.

This phenomenon began in the late 1980s, with startups being founded in Israel, but really reached its tipping point in 1993. That year, the government began a program called The Yozma Program. The program offered tax incentives to foreign venture capital investors in Israel and promised to double any investment with money from the government. The offering of this favorable program to startups came decades before most Western governments would offer such incentives. Large, well-known tech companies (Microsoft, for example) began establishing startup accelerators and innovation centers in Israel, wanting to contribute to this fast-growing Israeli tech market. As the years continued, Israel blossomed into the “Startup Nation” as we know it.

The state currently has over 6,000 active startups, receiving tens of billions of dollars in funding. Perhaps even more impressive is the sheer success of these companies; Israel has founded almost one hundred unicorns (the term for a startup that is worth at least a billion dollars). To put this number in perspective, Israel has a population of only around 9 million, whereas the United Kingdom, a vastly larger country of around 67 million, has only founded 43 unicorns. While we have all heard of Waze and Mobileye as the quintessential Israeli startups, there are countless others that have provided the world with incredible products. I would like to focus on some of such companies that you may not have heard of. Below are two of these examples that showcase Israel’s brilliance:

SniffPhone — a device that can smell disease:

To kick off the spotlight, this startup created an electronic nose that smells cancer. The SniffPhone is a medical device with groundbreaking technology that can diagnose diseases, including cancer, from the patient simply breathing into it. Using nanotechnology chemical sensors, it can measure certain qualities of one’s breath and wirelessly send the results to a database for the medical worker to analyze. It was awarded the 2018 Innovation Award by the European Commission for Most Innovative Project.

ReWalk — a battery-powered ‘exoskeleton:’

This next company has created a technology that is simply unbelievable- giving those with spinal cord injuries the gift of walking again. ReWalk is a wearable robotic exoskeleton that allows its users to stand upright, walk, turn, and climb and descend stairs. ReWalk is the first exoskeleton to be cleared by the FDA for use in the United States.

These aforementioned products only illustrate the tip of the iceberg of the ideas Israel has brought to reality. Although this year has been a slower year for the Israeli startup economy, a rebound is expected, as Israel will continue to start companies and show even its harshest critics how valuable it is. As supporters of the state, it is essential for all of us to remember and remind others how significantly Israel has improved our world.

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Photo Caption: ReWalk, a battery-powered exoskeleton that helps people with spinal injuries walk

Photo Credit: ReWalk