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Top Israeli executive is optimistic about future of country's high-tech industry

Startup Nation Central campaign in New York City (Photo: GPO)

One of Israel's leading tech executives expressed optimism about the future of the Israeli high-tech industry in a surprisingly upbeat report amid the ongoing war between Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas.

Dr. Avi Hasson, the founder of the Israel Innovation Authority and CEO at Startup Nation Central, said he is optimistic about the Israeli tech sector despite the immense challenges caused by the war against Hamas in Gaza and the preceding judicial reform controversy.

"I am less worried today than I was during the judicial overhaul period," he said, "because in the end, more than anything else, our most important asset is the human capital. Israel is a hub of human, entrepreneurial infrastructure, with a unique environment, making it suitable for building startups.”

Hasson admitted that he was concerned many Israeli high-tech entrepreneurs would leave when the war began.

“This was the first time I really feared that people would leave the country. CEOs of multinational companies told me at the time that they had never received so many applications for relocation. Now things have reversed, and this trend has fallen off the agenda: many of them, who only a few months ago prepared their foreign passports and registered their companies abroad, are today in a state of mind of 'we stay and fight, we stay and influence,'” Hasson stated.

“Therefore, by the way, I bet that we will soon see more and more high-tech people going into politics,” he added.

While emphasizing that war should be avoided whenever possible, Hasson also highlighted the fact that nations engaged in conflict often drive technological advancements, which ultimately benefit civilian society.

"There is another important element: war produces ideas and innovation. Technologies that were developed, perfected, and tested in war can be converted to, say, picking peppers. And I say: just as there is always 'baby boom' after wars, we will see a significant change here," Hasson predicted.

Internationally known as the Start-Up Nation, Israel's high-tech sector traces its origins to military technological advances. For instance, Israel had already become a pioneer in military drone technology in the early 1980s, during the First Lebanon War. Today, the use of drones is increasingly entering the civilian sector in Israel and abroad.

International high-tech companies appear to share Hasson’s optimism about the Start-Up Nation.

Approximately 60% of multinational businesses expressed confidence in the Israeli tech sector despite the Israel-Hamas war, according to an Ernst & Young poll published in early February. Only 10% of the global companies predicted that the war in Gaza would have severe negative consequences for their operations in Israel.

Prof. Yossi Matias, CEO of the Google Research and Development Center, shared his optimism about the Israeli tech sector’s future.

“Looking ahead to 2024, despite the challenging period, part of our essential role, is to be optimistic as some of us impact what will happen in the future, and I allow myself to be optimistic despite the difficulties and despite what we are going through and experience,” Matias stated.

Following the Hamas invasion and massacre of over 1,200 Israelis on Oct. 7, Israel mobilized over 300.000 reservist forces in roughly 48 hours. Many of these reservist soldiers play a prominent role in the Israeli tech sector, which suffered when they temporarily left their companies and joined the IDF at the frontlines.

However, tens of thousands of these reservists have since returned to civilian life and rejoined their respective companies.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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