Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, now a technical advisor and director at Google's parent company Alphabet, may well be the best presenter of Israel as a startup nation. In his emotional speech at the opening of the Prime Minister's Conference on Innovation, he praised Israeli innovation and the Israeli government for promoting it.
"I think I understand the formula," Schmidt said."It begins with extraordinary talent and excellent education, and it goes through military service, especially in Unit 8200, which gives an enormous advantage. But you have to look at this from an even broader angle: Israel should assume global leadership in mathematics, artificial intelligence, medicine, and quantum computing. This is the basis for innovation and the startups of the next decade."
Schmidt mentioned the late president and prime minister Shimon Peres, saying that because of his vision for Israel's future, Google now has over 1,000 employees in Israel. "We love Israel and continue investing in it in any way possible. Today, a large part of our research is done in Israel, and a large part of the artificial intelligence work is done here," he said.
Schmidt also mentioned the investments in Israel by the Innovation Endeavors fund that he heads, saying that he had been inspired by Israeli innovation and had founded a company that had invested over $360 million in 63 Israeli startups to date. He cited the exit by one of the portfolio companies, Datorama, "which we are glad is now part of Salesforce," and the investment in cyber group Team8, which is now producing results.
Schmidt called on Israel to lead the development of learning technology in order to narrow gaps between rich and poor children, agritech technologies that would make it possible to produce 10 times as much protein per acre, and health technologies that would eradicate diseases and extend people's life span. "Remember the legacy of Peres, who showed that it was possible to turn a desert into an oasis, and use the innovation you are building to enable everyone to live until age 200."
The Prime Minister's Conference on Innovation opened yesterday in the presence of overseas visitors, including Wang Qishan, Vice President of the People's Republic of China, Alibaba founder and chairperson Jack Ma, Schmidt, Facebook VP David Marcus, and many others. The conference is meant to highlight the contribution of Israeli innovation to coping with future challenges in health, food, agriculture, cyber, and sustainability.
At the conference, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu portrayed the achievements of Israeli high tech, including 300 development centers in Israel, developments in digital health, and achievements in auto technology, in which Israel has made significant progress since the assembling in Israel in the 1960s of the Sussita car, a picture of which was displayed by Netanyahu. He said he would continue acting to maintain Israel as a global technological power, and also to strengthen ties with the Arab world, which could benefit from joint opportunities in water, communications, and so forth. "Technology and innovation are a force for peace," the prime minister said.
During the ceremony, Netanyahu presented Prime Minister's innovation prizes to three Israel startups: DouxMatok, which has developed flavorings with reduced amounts of sugar and salt; Emedgene, which has developed technology for deciphering genetic information in a few minutes; and Unbound Tech, which has developed very powerful encryption technology for securing enterprisel information.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 25, 2018
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