The start-up nation, Israel, is great at inventing new things but not always at implementing them, as shown by its delay in introducing 5G telecommunications. 5G is the new wave of telecoms and you would think it would be a given in a country that has 8000 technology start-ups and 500 multinationals, from Microsoft to Intel and Oracle.
The sector generates 12 per cent of GDP and 50 per cent of exports.
Ask anyone in the tech sector the reasons for their success and they would nominate an 8200-strong unit of the defence force — the famed intelligence unit — and the fact the country is surrounded by enemies and lives in survival mode. Three-D printer maker Stratasys’s Amir Ohad puts it simply: “You can’t lose once.” The old Israeli line is: “They tried to kill us — we survived, let’s eat.” This creates the sort of pressure Australians don’t have to cope with.
The Israeli culture is also strong with a mantra of “question everything”. Compulsory military service also imposes a discipline unheard of in Australia, starting with the fact that when you join at the age of 18 you are screened to possibly join the intelligence units and the ranking you gain in the army stays with you for life.
By the time your compulsory service finishes you are 21 and have a much better idea about what you want to do with the rest of your life.