Startups don’t typically appear out of thin air.

Behind the scenes are always various levers that aid and abet entrepreneurs in the quest for success.

Brad Feld talks about the ecosystem in which startups thrive in his new book Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City.

Using Boulder, Colorado as an example, Feld methodically dissects the inputs into what makes a successful community.

The book’s a great read and worth a look — whether you’re an entrepreneur in an outlying city, an angel investor, small business leader, or politician interested in growing a startup community in your city.

Another perspective on Israeli innovation

Riffing off of Feld’s book, early stage investor, Mark Suster offers his own requirements for a successful startup community. I’ll let you read the whole article but I thought it was worth highlighting that Israel has been a paradigm for the ecosystem both VCs describe.

Here are some of Suster’s attributes at which Israel particularly thrives

  1. Strong pool of tech founders: It’s said that every employee in Israel believes he or she should be the CEO. There’s a very strong entrepreneurial spirit. Beyond BusinessInsider’s 15 startups to watch for in 2012 are thousands of other early stage companies with big ideas. These people have real experience starting and growing companies.
  2. local capital: Well, Israel has the highest R&D expenditure as part of GDP in the world. Israeli startups have successfully raised over $15B in capital — much of that comes from foreign sources but the percentage of funding that comes locally has been steadily growing. 2011 saw +70% growth year/year as $2.1B flowed into local companies (similar to 2008 levels). You can see a lot of this data in our presentation on why it makes sense to invest in Israel.
  3. access to great universities: Israelis moan that their educational system is not the shining star it once was. Maybe, but at the high-end of scientific competitiveness Israel ranked #1 in the quality of scientific research organizations as part of the Global Competitiveness Survey published by the World Economic Forum. The Technion, Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University, Weizmann and now a slew of smaller, private institutions are producing world-class scientists.
  4. Local press/websites/organizational tools: The Israeli press has really matured in its coverage of local startup businesses. The Marker (in Hebrew) has been doing a better job covering startups for the local population and blogs like No Camels. have stepped up to fill the gap in covering innovation. There are vibrant networking and support events for entrepreneurs, like Yaron Samid’s TechAviv. There’s now a serious slew of startup accelerators in Israel hard at work, helping founders build their firms.

Israel’s not perfect and there’s lots of room to improve its startup community (there’s this interesting tension between the old-rank-and-file socialism that the country was founded upon and business that wants to grow unfettered) but it’s got a lot of the makings of a startup ecosystem that will produce tomorrow’s leading companies.