Written by the student Virginie MANAC'H


13 MIM students taking the major 'Innovation' at ESCP Europe, went to discover the Israeli 'Silicone Valley' from April 21 to 28 2012. This project is unique: the world of startups and innovation in Israel is booming and this is the first time a group of French students went to visit this area.

As a result, students had a very intensive experience in terms of learning on innovation, human experience and discovery of lesser-known aspects of Israel ...

Who are they?
They are students with very different backgrounds: they are French, Italian, Brazilian, from business or engineer schools with professional experience in finance, industry, or marketing. A great melting pot!

All of them have followed intensive courses on the topic of innovation at ESCP Europe: technological innovation or social management of creativity, project management ...

Among many projects, they worked particularly with Renault on the electric car, Gaz de France on energy in 2030 and with the French Institute of Fashion and L'Oreal. They have chosen to complete their semester with a field trip to have a closer look at how Israel promotes innovation.

What objective?
The objective of this trip is to enable students to approach economic environment and to understand why Israel is able to be so innovative.  The purpose is also to build close business relationships between the two countries by identifying opportunities for joint business and creating contacts. The objective was to visit companies and places focused on innovation, during 4 days: Better Place (electric vehicle), Procter & Gamble House Of Innovation, Technion + TAU (University), the Institute of Weizmann Research, Qualcomm located in MATAM Scientific Industry Center (science center which is home to companies in new technologies) and incubators (NGT and The Hive).

Students also had two days to visit the sociocultural environment of the country (Jerusalem and the Dead Sea).

The key learnings
Israel has a unique ecosystem for innovation: the Government is actively involved in innovation since it invests nearly 5% of its GDP in R&D, twice the average of OECD countries. It also supports innovation through technology incubators where they fund 85% of the selected entrepreneurs' projects. In addition, the state offers tax benefits to companies.

Academic institutions have many brilliant scientists: the students were able to appreciate excellence in terms of high tech research by visiting the University in Haifa, the Technion, where they met students from France and the Nobel Prize for chemistry winner Dan Shechtman. Emphasis was placed on Israel's ability to enhance scientific research.

Cooperation between academic institutions and industry is very important: Israel fosters links between discoveries and marketing. In this sense, the development of Technology Transfer Offices will help scientists to launch their inventions.

The army acts as an incubator for Israeli talents to learn leadership, teamwork and analytical skills, and help develop new technologies. The army fosters the young and high potential by selecting them in elite units, including service technology, and by giving them very quickly extraordinary responsibilities for their young age. At the end, the young members of the army have acquired a network and a confidence in themselves that help them launch innovative projects.

Global thinking: Israel is a small country which is very open to the business world and Israeli companies mainly address foreign markets.  The multiculturalism and the mentality of Israelis seeking to always challenge the status quo, improvise and take risks. A Hebrew word that is often quoted is the word "chutzpah" according to Daniel Rouach (School teacher and director of the Chamber of Commerce Israel-France), this is a mix of "culot", "courage" and "crazy." This mindset is the result of the country's history and religious cement: Israeli people must try and enjoy every day, they must not worry to fail, nothing is impossible.

For details on what students have learned in each company and cultural anecdotes ... See you on the Innovators Nation!

The students would like to thank the Chamber of Commerce France - Israël(Paris) and the Chamber of Commerce Israel - France (Tel Aviv), the Institute for Innovation and Competitiveness, Israeli Embassy in Paris and all the partners who hosted them on their headquarters and have given their time,finally Daniel Rouach, Laureen Favier and Yvon Maier for the organization.