Four important lessons for Australia from the “startup nation”

I’ve been concerned for a while now that words like innovation and entrepreneurship are being thrown around with reckless abandon in Australia, yet the serious work required to create something truly valuable seems rarely understood.

Last month I travelled to Israel as part of an Innovation Mission organised by the Trans-Tasman Business Circle, and had the privilege of hearing from entrepreneurs, academics, government representatives, startups, incubators and investors about what’s helped shape the “startup nation”.

Sadly the experience has confirmed my suspicion that there is no secret sauce.

While innovation is often described as a blend of creativity and science, Israel’s success at commercialising innovation comes down to solid policies and processes that are consistently applied.

1. Universities and academics are incentivised to conduct applied research

2. Good ideas and innovations are given every chance of success

3. It’s accepted that success is largely built through grunt work

My impression of the people we met in Israel is that they work hard and they work together. People often talk about the role that military service plays in providing young Israelis with experience and networks that set them up life.

I also noticed that unlike Australia where most co-working spaces and startup hubs personify “cool”, Israelis seem to invest in their work not the ambience of their workplace.

4. Israel has created a brand among potential investors

I’m not qualified to comment in detail about the various policies and programs Israel has in place to attract and incentivise foreign investment in Israel, but it is working.

Importantly, Israel is also doing a first class job at telling the story of the startup nation. Everyone, everywhere we went gave us their own take on the same themes and their confidence was infectious.

Of course, Israel has worked for over 20 years to build its reputation as ‘Silicon Wadi’ and its credibility as an investment destination. Now it seems there is a conga line of delegations eager to see and hear first-hand how they’ve done it. It’s impressive.

Read the article by Anne Wickham on Startup Smart.