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Israel: start-up notions
Author  Daniel Isenberg

Start-up notions

The real roots of Israel's economic miracle

The 1990s were a revolutionary time Israel's economic development. The government created Yozma, the innovative venture capital vehicle structured by the Israeli government, saw an inrush of venture capital, a wave of NASDAQ IPOs, and benefited from a surge in corporate technology acquisitions. Recent accounts represent the period as a case study for governments looking to foster entrepreneurship. But that story is so incomplete as to mislead policy makers. In fact, developments in the 1990s were the fruits of a process almost forty years old.

The real timeline:
1.    1950s. The seeds of Israel’s entrepreneurial revolution were sown in the late 1940s and 1950s. Israel’s first (Weizmann) and fourth (Katzir) presidents were scientists. Both believed strongly in the role of science in national defense and societal prosperity; in and of itself unique in the world and a strong message about national priorities. The first military technology transfers took place then, half a century before Mirabilis created ICQ, the first instant messaging system.
2.    1960s. R&D got a huge boost in the 1960s, in part from the sudden 1967 French weapons embargo: military self-reliance became defense policy, leading to massive investments in military R&D and the seeding of what would become an entrepreneurial hothouse, the Intelligence Signal Corp (Unit 8200). In 1968 the Katchalski Committee recommended the establishment of the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) to help fix market failures in commercializing R&D.
3.    1970s. The early 1970s saw Israel’s first NASDAQ IPO (1972; by medical imaging pioneer, Elscint), the embryonic involvement of top-tier US-based venture capital, and very significantly, the establishment in Israel in 1974 of Intel’s first international R&D center. In 1977 the influential BIRD foundation was created to fund technology-based product development between Israeli and US companies.
4.    1980s. By the early 1980s there were numerous top-tier VC investments, and by 1984 the NASDAQ value of the first wave of a dozen Israeli tech ventures was $780 million. In 1984 the government passed the milestone Law for the Encouragement of R&D. In 1985 the first limited partnership venture capital fund, Athena Venture Partners, was established with $23 million. In 1987 the cancellation of the Lavi fighter-plane mega-project flooded the market with thousands of engineers who swelled the ranks of startups. By 1989 I even had enough material for my speech in Berlin at the European Venture Capital Association conference, “The History of Israeli’ Technological Entrepreneurship.”

You can’t write American history without Jefferson and Washington, yet the authors of Start-Up Nation tried to do the equivalent, overlooking founding fathers like Uzia Galil and Dan Tolkowsky. They’ve even neglected the founding sons—people like Zohar Zisapel (founder of 29 IT firms) and Efi Arazi (founder of Scitex). There are consequences to this revisionism. For example, by focusing on the 90s, policymakers have neglected the parallel entrepreneurship ecosystem that preceded—and enabled—initiatives like Yozma.

But it was this ecosystem that, by 1990, made Israel’s entrepreneurial revolution a fait accompli; so much so that by 1997 there had been 68 NASDAQ IPOs—all before Yozma’s investments started bearing fruit.

And in truth the massive Russian immigration of scientists and engineers has had little direct impact on Israel’s entrepreneurial revolution—in the 90s most had no choice but to accept K-12 teaching or low-level service jobs; Israel’s vast incubator program, admirably privatized, has bred a relatively low number of successful ventures; and Israel’s culture and institutions were anti-entrepreneurial until the mid-1990s, with labor and the government owning huge portions of the economy, wealth being scorned, and marginal tax rates discouraging extra work.

Israel’s entrepreneurial accomplishments have indeed been nothing short of miraculous. Since 1972, over 160 Israeli ventures have been listed on NASDAQ, more than any other country outside of the U.S. and Canada, and hundreds of tech ventures have been acquired. Tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars of value have been created. The world benefits from Israeli innovations, such as the USB memory stick, instant messaging and new generation cardiac stents, to name a few. The entrepreneurs who created such novel products have disproportionately contributed to Israel’s growth. So it is only natural for policy makers around the world to want to learn from Israel’s remarkable experience. But they will only reach the right conclusions if they first get the history right.


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TAU team takes part in discovering new planet
A team of astronomers at TAU and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have announced the first-ever discovery of an extrasolar planet via induced relativistic beaming of light from the host star.For the past two years, Professor Tsevi Mazeh and his PhD student, Simchon Faigler, from the School of Physics and Astronomy at TAU, have been searching for planets around other stars using a novel detection method. Their technique is based on identifying three very small effects that occur simultaneously as a planet orbits a star. The first effect is Einstein's relativistic "beaming" effect that causes a star to brighten and dim as it is tugged back and forth by an orbiting planet. Detection of planets via the beaming effect was predicted in 2003 by Prof. Avi Loeb, Harvard University and Sackler Professor by Special Appointment at Tel Aviv University, and Prof. Scott Gaudi (now at Ohio State University).The second effect that the Faigler-Mazeh method looks for is the stretching of   a star into a football shape by the gravitational tides raised by an orbiting planet. Such distorted star appears brighter when observed from the side, due to the larger visible surface area, and fainter when viewed end-on. The third small effect is due to starlight reflected by the planet itself.Because the brightness variations are extremely small (on the order of one part in ten-thousand), these effects can be detected only with accurate data obtained by space missions. The Tel Aviv team, which is supported by a European Research Council Advanced Grant, analyzed data for more than one hundred thousand stars obtained with the NASA space mission Kepler, looking for the beaming and the two other modulations. After discovering a planet candidate, they collaborate with Dr. David Latham from the CfA and his team, which includes Dr. Lars Buchhave, to observe the candidate from the ground for additional spectroscopic confirmation.On May 3rd 2012 Faigler and Mazeh noticed the three effects in one of the stars observed by Kepler. Ground-based observations to confirm the planet detection were performed by Latham and his team at the Whipple Observatory in Arizona, and by Lev Tal-Or, another PhD student from Tel Aviv, at the Haute-Provence Observatory in France. Both telescopes confirmed unequivocally the existence of the planet, now called Kepler-76b.Last week, Faigler, Tal-Or, Mazeh, Latham and Buchhave, announced the discovery in a paper to be published in the Astrophysical Journal.Kepler-76b is in the constellation Cygnus at a distance of about 2000 light years. The planet, with a mass of twice the mass of Jupiter, orbits its parent star very closely, with a period of one and a half days. The proximity of the star probably causes the planet to be tidally locked, so that the same side of the planet faces the star at all times. That part of the planet is heated by stellar radiation to a temperature of about 3500 degrees F.While examining carefully the stellar brightness, the team found strong evidence that the heat absorbed by the planetary atmosphere is carried around the planet by jet stream winds for about 10,000 miles, a substantial fraction of the planetary circumference. Such an effect has been observed before only in the infrared with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. This is the first time a wind effect has been observed in the optical band. The study of such a jet is extremely important for understanding how the planetary atmosphere responds to intense stellar heating.All of the planets found so far by the NASA Kepler mission were discovered because they transit (eclipse) their parent stars. What is special about the TAU new technique is that it can find even non-transiting planets. "The irony is that Kepler-76b is in fact transiting the edge of its parent star,” says Faigler. “This is why originally it was misclassified as an eclipsing binary. Only through detection of the three small effects were we able to determine that it is actually a planet.""This is the first time that this aspect of Einstein's Theory of Relativity has been used to discover a planet", says Professor Mazeh, who is a participating scientist in the NASA Kepler mission. "We have been searching for this elusive effect for more than two years, and we finally found a planet! It is amazing that already a decade ago Loeb and Gaudi foresaw this happening. Shay Zucker of TAU, a former student of mine, called my attention to this prediction. At first, I did not believe it is possible, but I slowly got into it. Luckily, we got the support of the European Research Council to carry this project forward, and we collaborated with Dave Latham who believed in this project and kept following the false candidates that Simchon and I were giving him. In the end we found Kepler-76b! It is a dream come true.""The discovery proves the feasibility of the method," says Faigler. "We hope to find more planets like Kepler-76b using the same technique. This is possible only because of the exquisite data NASA is collecting with the Kepler spacecraft for more than 150,000 stars."
Future Technologies in today's labs
Technology and Innovation Making a Better Tomorrow at Research@Intel EventNEWS HIGHLIGHTSToday marks the 11th annual Research@Intel event, showcasing 20 research projects from around the world, each exploring technologies to enrich lives with smarter cities, homes and offices, and with smarter ways to shop, communicate and drive.Intel Labs is developing some of the world's most promising technological advancements, both on its own and in conjunction with leading academic institutions worldwide.Intel Labs helps pave the way for future innovations through technologies that support life enrichment, easier access to big data, and a more connected computing experience.SAN FRANCISCO, June 25, 2013 – Car tail lights saving lives, immersive displays allowing photos to tell their own story, personalized shopping experiences. These are just a few of the innovations presented by Intel Corporation today at its 11th annual Research@Intel event, a showcase of the most innovative new research spawned from Intel's internal efforts and external collaborations. Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer, kicked off today's event by highlighting some of the 20 groundbreaking research projects on exhibition today.Supplementing its own robust and diverse research efforts, Intel Labs two years ago deployed a unique model of direct collaboration with the world's leading academic researchers, creating a global network of seven Intel Science and Technology Centers (ISTCs) and six Intel Collaborative Research Institutes (ICRIs). Each center has built its own vibrant community of researchers to speed advances in embedded, cloud, social and secure computing, among other fields. Today's event showcases a sample of these research advances – and many from Intel's own labs – across these and many other sectors, including visual and context-aware computing as well as significant progress in fields such as big data."The majority of our research is conducted by Intel's own researchers but we are delighted by the quality and quantity of research coming out of the ISTCs and ICRIs," said Rattner. "Importantly, the deeply collaborative structure of these engagements is based on an open IP model benefiting not just Intel and researchers, but the high technology industry and human society at large."Research@Intel Demo ShowcaseDemos at the Research@Intel event are housed in four different zones. These zones include:Enriching Lives: Developing computing experiences that simplify, enhance and enrich people's lives. This research is intended to help people be understood, expressive and free. One demonstration, titled "Be Meaningful," using "Shelf Edge Technology (SET)," can help detect a person's presence in a store and create a more meaningful, personalized shopping experience. If a car needs an air filter, for example, SET could use the vehicle's service records to alert the owner about the need for a specific filter when the owner enters an auto parts store. If a person has peanut allergies, SET could warn of potentially dangerous products. If a person plans to cook salmon for dinner, SET could recommend wines to best compliment the dish.The Data Society: Unlocking the power of data for everyone. In addition to pushing the boundaries of what institutions can do with big data, Intel Labs has put an emphasis on the exploration of meaningful data exchange among individuals. Researchers are looking at ways to adapt the digital infrastructure to allow people to better capture, move and work with digital information easily and effectively. In a demonstration titled, "Vibrant Data Communities," Intel Labs researchers combine public and personal data with context-aware algorithms to identify and present the most useful information to individuals. For example, air quality sensors in a neighborhood could help steer a person clear of pollen hotspots in during allergy season.Intelligent Everything: Innovations that transform inanimate objects by adding sensing capabilities, helping enable sustainable and smart living experiences. In one demonstration, researchers are working on easy-to-use tools to automate contextual cues with already-existing sensors so that a home behaves usefully in response to events and a family's unique needs. The demonstration shows how to easily link a Web camera and a music system to act as a home security system and to link a Web camera that receives contextual cues from a baby in a crib and an alarm by the parents' bed to act as a baby monitor.Tech Essentials: Technology building blocks – including circuits, architecture and software – that provide a foundation for all of the areas above. For example, the "Protecting Sensor Data" demonstration uses Intel hardware and software to prevent malicious parties for accessing personal information recorded by cameras, microphones and GPS locators embedded in mobile devices.To get the latest Intel Innovation news, visit www.intel.com/newsroom/research, and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
Tel Aviv ranked world's 3rd hottest city for 2011
Tel Aviv ranked world's 3rd hottest city for 2011By JPOST.COM STAFF  11/01/2010 15:03 Lonely Planet's Top Cities list describes Israel's most international city as hedonistic, tolerant, cultured, and a truly diverse 21st-century hub.After scouring the globe for next year’s hottest cities, the editors at travel guide company Lonely Planet released their Top 10 Cities for 2011 on Sunday, listing what it called a “modern Sin City” – Tel Aviv – at No. 3.Coming in behind New York City and Tangier, Tel Aviv is described as being unified by the religion of hedonism, yet tolerant, cultured and a truly diverse 21st-century hub.Touching on the city’s wellknown night life, Lonely Planet observes, “There are more bars than synagogues, God is a DJ and everyone’s body is a temple.”Calling Tel Aviv the most international city in Israel, Lonely Planet points out that the city is home to a large gay community, calling it “a kind of San Francisco in the Middle East.”On a cultural note, they credit the city’s university and museums with making it “the greenhouse for Israel’s growing art, film and music scenes.”Lonely Planet recommends strolling down the pleasant tree-lined streets that reach to the Mediterranean Sea, and finding out why Tel Aviv’s residents call it the greatest city on earth.Other cities that made the list were Valencia, the Peruvian Amazon city of Iquitos, Delhi, Newcastle, and the city the company describes as the spiritual heir to Bob Dylan, Chiang Mai.Lonely Planet on Sunday also listed its Top 10 Countries for 2011. While Israel did not make the 2011 list, Syria did.Coming in at No. 9, the guide lauds Syria’s slowly liberalizing economy and the newfound freedom of no longer having the “noose of the ‘Axis of Evil’ tag hanging around its neck” as some of the reasons for Syria making this year’s list.The writers recommend the old cities of Aleppo and Damascus, exploring the open countryside “strewn with the abandoned playgrounds of fallen empires.”Albania topped the list, with Brazil coming in second.   

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