Vardi: High tech not connected to economy

Yossi Vardi: The sector provides a substantial percentage of Israel's foreign currency but represents 7% of jobs.

High tech guru Dr. Yossi Vardi has told "Globes" that Israel's high tech sector is disconnected from the rest of the economy.

He said, "Israeli high tech's largest advantage is its human capital but also our culture. We have an exceptional culture of entrepreneurship and even Israelis do not appreciate this. There is a saying that 'familiarity breeds indifference' and you have to see things the way they are seen from overseas."

Dr. Vardi continued, "Israel has a large group of skilled and talented people who are moving forward fast and don't do anything second rate, have sense of urgency and are ready to take risks with the best years of their lives. Israeli curiosity and lack of shame is infinite. They are always asking questions and always have something to say. Generally they even know how to do something better. Sometimes these attributes are not always seen as desirable around the world but they become advantages in the world of start-ups."

"Globes" Do you think that Israeli high tech is still considered the engine of the Israeli economy?

He said, "I am sure that it is. But as Prof. Manuel Trachenberg (former head of the National economic Council) has said, sometimes it seems that the Israeli train engine is running on separate tracks. There is a large disconnection between high-tech and what is happening in the Israeli economy. The sector provides a substantial percentage of Israel's foreign currency but represents 7% of jobs. That is the nature of this industry and we must think how to enlarge the number of employees."

So you do not believe that Israeli is losing its sense of innovation?

He said, "I don't think anyone thinks that. It's another to see the procession of people visiting Israel to understand that. Dozens of people are coming here from the largest companies in the world and they have every reason to come here. Innovation in Israel is a phenomenon that leaves the world open mouthed. I don't want to describe the reality as ideal but for sure the situation is excellent."

So what is Israeli high tech's most difficult problem?

Dr. Vardi responded, "High tech is an ecological system. I'm talking about the Internet sector. I don't think there is a problem. Israel has many talented young people. But yes I would be happy to see more venture capital reaching young people. I'm not pointing a finger of accusation but the fact is that companies in advanced stages are finding it difficult to get interim funding. The supply of talent and entrepreneurship is larger than the available financing but the branch is not in crisis.

Is there a solution?

He said, "I view with horror the State's response to the High Court of Justice regarding studies in math and English (NP: the petition to enforce the core curriculum in the Haredi i> ultra orthodox sector). Without those two subjects, I do not believe it is possible to be involved in anything connected to the 21st century. I would be happy to see this topic being put in its appropriate place."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 21, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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