The State of Israel was formally declared on May 14 of 1948, yet within one day, it sustained an invasion by the armies of no fewer than five Arab lands. As a result, Israel had no choice but to fight back and protect its reclaimed sovereignty as the ancestral home of the Jewish people. There were roughly 650,000 living in Israel in 1948, with countless more European Jews who had survived the Holocaust as well as those residing in Arab countries across the Mid-East and North Africa wishing to move to the new nation. At this time, Israel was in survival mode in terms of meeting the necessities of a rapidly growing population. Thus few anticipated great strides in the realms of technology or economics.
However, more than 50 years later, Israel has emerged as a true power in these realms, its per-capita GDP ranking 21st in the entire world. Data from the United Nations suggest that Israel’s standard of living is 23rd worldwide, as measured by life expectancy, educational opportunities, and per capita income.
A large number of these achievements can be attributed to innovation and expertise in technology and applied science. The innate lack of natural resources in Israel has prompted aggressive exploration and action in the realm of scientific education and research.
The urgent dilemmas faced by Israel and the impressive level of scientific and scholarly infrastructure combined to prompt an unusual process which resulted in groundbreaking development. This can be seen both in Israel’s agricultural realm as well as its military structure, two elements that have proven vital to the very survival of the state. Confronted by the reality of hostile, well-stocked Arab armies nearby, Israel’s leaders needed to learn how to procure its weaponry, even in the face of difficulties obtaining supplies from abroad.
1951 saw the launch of the Israel Aircraft Industries, a government enterprise, and also the creation of Technion’s aeronautical engineering arm. These investments have shown themselves to be invaluable over time. Developments in the world of agriculture designed to provide bountiful harvests for an expanding citizenry have yielded innovations in agro-mechanical devices, drip irrigation techniques and even the use of genetic engineering to grow disease-resistant, high-producing crop varieties.
Nowadays, Israel is witnessing a boom in high-tech entrepreneurial activity in league with that seen in highly developed nations worldwide. As evidence of this, foreign investors have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into these initiatives. Israel’s roster of more than 1,800 high-tech firms is set to produce exports valued at roughly $9 billion this year alone, a figure which represents massive growth over prior years.
BDI-COFACE conducted a study in 2014 of college students in Israel, finding that a majority of those surveyed had hopes of entering the technology realm. 31 percent of those studying at Israeli universities intended to pursue employment at high-tech giants including Google and Intel following graduation, including those not focusing on tech-related subjects. 15 percent of respondents asserted that they hoped to be employed in service-related industries following graduation. 13 percent had aspirations in the finance sector and 4 percent cited education as their desired career path. Among the most coveted firms for recent Israeli college graduates are Teva Pharmaceuticals, Intel, and Google.
At the start of each year, Bloomberg publishes its Global Innovation Index which explores the 50 most influential global technology hot spots. The 2015 list put Israel in 4th position, surpassing the rankings achieved by China and the United States. Israel was ranked 2nd in research and development functions, 4th in research talent, 4th in education, 21st in manufacturing capabilities and 11th in high-technology firms.
The high-tech sector in Israel was able to bring in a whopping $4.43 billion over the course of 2015, as explained by the Venture Capital Research Center. The figure is an impressive 30 percent jump over the prior year. The same report also revealed that for the 708 high-tech deals involving Israeli firms, there was an average value of $6.3 million, a staggering tally for certain.