Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

In addition to my work as a business coach, one of my interests is blogging about life in Israel. This is a country full of contrasts – over eight million citizens living in an area the size of Wales. You can see snow and the lowest place on the globe in the same day. Although surrounded by geopolitical extremes, Israel has achieved a decade of high economic growth. My work brings me in contact with an array of new companies, exciting technologies and dynamic characters. Sitting back with a relaxing cup of strong tea (with milk), you realise just how much there is to appreciate in the Holyland. Large or small operations, private sector or non profit, my clients provide experiences from which others can learn and benefit.

Early April 2021: Israel’s successful inoculation programme against corona has resulted in a massive downturn in the spread of the virus. Another dead-end election campaign is over. Summer is approaching. And Netanyahu has finally made it to court.

It is time to get back to basics and look at Israel’s economy. How come it has shown a surprising resilience over the past two years?

The answer lies – as ever – in the concept of the ‘start-up nation’. As local investment banker, Edouard Cukierman, declared: “Israel has more unicorns than all of Europe”!

It is as if every day is destined to reveal yet another astounding commercial headline:

  • Facebook is reported to be considering a new R&D centre in the Holy Land.
  • Israeli automatic software update platform developer JFrog has announced that it is expanding its Tel Aviv office and hiring 300 people worldwide.
  • “At least half of my job is about science, technology, innovation and cyber…..”, quoted the current UK ambassador in Tel Aviv, Neil Wigan.

An item in the Times of Israel summed up the situation in one paragraph:

Google in March appointed Uri Frank, a former Intel Corp. executive, as its new VP of engineering for server chip design to lead a team in Israel for “doubling down” on designing and building custom chips to boost the performance of its computing systems. Nvidia, a US chipmaker, said it plans to recruit 600 engineers locally to boost its activities in Israel in the field of artificial intelligence. And Microsoft is reportedly seeking to invest over $1 billion in Israel, including expanding its research and development activities in chips.

TOI – 4/4/2021

Yes, the obvious problems still remain, starting with an inept political leadership at the economic helm. There are labour shortages in key sectors, particularly hightech. The budget debt is understandably high, but there appears no plan to reduce it.

So let us end on a positive note. In March 2021: –

  • At least 11 companies in Israel raised over US$100 million.
  • 3 companies have made it to NASDAQ via a SPAC agreement.
  • The number of unicorns is approaching 80.

For now, neither covid nor the trial of the Prime Minister has been able to brake the continued growth of the Israeli economy. It’s summer time!

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