Israel at 75
Naomi Miller, MIBA, Director of Israel Partnerships
Israel is celebrating 75 years of independence this month and has been deservedly defined as the innovation nation. Israel has the largest percentage of scientists and engineers per capita, with 135 per 10,000. There are thousands of startups, patents, and companies, almost all developed through a need to feed, defend, or help heal people. There is a plethora of inventions that deserve mention, but here are just a few from the past 75 years that have made major global impact.
Israel is a land that is two-thirds desert and already in the pre-state years the agricultural pioneers were developing ways in which to fulfill the vision of the nation’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Grunion, who said, “the Negev is where the creativity and pioneering vigor of Israel shall be tested.” When you eat a salad, note that it is Israel that is sharing with the world the delicious Cherry Tomato. In the barren desert, the drip irrigation system system was developed; it is manufactured by the Netafim company and controls 30% of the global market.
Yet, the need for transferring water from the lush north to the arid south was evident in the first decade of the young State, and as a result, created a massive water project known as the National Water Carrier. With growing water shortages and lack of access becoming a global crisis, Watergen has developed a machine that can create water from air, making it one of the world leaders in atmospheric drinking water devices.
Israel has manufactured one car, the Sussita Carmel in the 1960’s, a project that was not considered overly successful or profitable but has realized it’s potential in the smart mobility sector. Waze and Mobileye are considered 2 of Israel’s most successful companies. In 1999 Mobileye was launched to develop a technology aimed to warn drivers of potentially dangerous situations. Today the systems are found in the vehicles of most major automakers. Purchased by Intel in 2017, it is Israel’s largest exit to date. The navigational app, Waze, was developed in 2008 and sold to Google in 2013. Today it boasts of over 100 million users.
Israel is a country that has experienced existential threats and military conflict while being surrounded by hostile enemies. Military conscription has been mandatory since independence, but in addition to the motivated conscripts, the IDF has understood that technology superiority is essential. The Iron Dome missile defense system has saved countless Israeli lives during rocket attacks on civilians, with a 90% success rate of missile interception. The Israel made tank, the Merkava, first developed in the late 1970’s, is considered one of the best battle tanks in the world, with its innovative crew protection system and ergonomics, sophisticated suspension system and advanced electronic firing system.
And IDF medic created the Emergency Bandage, an elasticized bandage creating pressure on the wound and has significantly reduced death from trauma or hemorrhaging on the battlefield. A former military missile engineer, Dr. Gabbi Idan, developed the PillCam after miniaturizing missile technology. The medical invention is a capsule covered camera that can be swallowed by a patient to diagnose gastrointestinal illness. After an accident that left Amit Gofer a quadriplegic, he invented ReWalk, a robotic exoskeleton that allows wheelchair walkers to walk, climb up and down stairs and see people eye to eye.
As Israelis are celebrating a most significant year of independence, they seem deeply committed to another 75 years of innovation and creativity.