Tech Diplomacy: Israel, Oslo, and OurCrowd

You’ve heard of diplomacy, but have you heard of tech diplomacy?

It’s no secret that Israel has been leading the world of innovation. VCs and financial backers from every industry flock to the Startup Nation, which has the highest number of startups per capita in the world, and ranks third in NASDEQ listings, just behind the U.S. and the UK.

The success of Israel in becoming the biggest hub for startups after Silicon Valley, has gained international attention, with other countries seeking to learn the secret. With natural resources running thin, countries dependent on traditional economic commodities are trying to get in front of the wave by creating new revenue streams beyond oil and coal. They are looking to build technological innovation engines to boost their economies and make their resources last longer.

Countries like India and China, historically wary of their relationship with Israel, are warming their stance, exchanging trade agreements (most recently with India) and building technology collaboration corridors, particularly in health and AgTech. This isn’t surprising, given growing populations that need to be fed and treated.

OurCrowd has been doing its part to spread the tech wealth internationally, working with India’s Reliance Industries to create a new incubator for startups, creating partnerships with Singapore’s UOB, Australia’s NAB, and organizing learning opportunities all around the world, including at the upcoming South Summit in Spain

But it isn’t just these countries. Norway, which has one of the highest per capita income levels in the world due to its oil and gas stores, is seeking to work with Israel to ramp up their fledgling startup scene.  Facing lower oil prices, and higher unemployment, innovation and hi-tech have now become the two hottest words in Norway.  Following the success of Norwegian start up Opera, new incubators and accelerators are emerging every year. 2016 saw a record high fundraising level by Norwegian firms, totaling 17 billion NOK in private equity and venture capital investments. Moving forward, they are looking towards Israel to learn how to grow.

Learning from each other

Israel has taken big steps in providing support to Oslo. The Israeli Innovation Authority has met their counterparts in Innovation Norway, and are planning a delegation to Israel. The Israeli embassy hosts a startup pitching competition, with winners traveling to Israel, and Israeli speakers are active in Oslo innovation week. In January of 2017, by Foreign Minister Brende and Prime Minister Netanyahu signed a declaration of intent on cooperation between research and innovation groups.

OurCrowd, which sees spreading Israel’s technological wonder as one of its founding principles, is getting involved in supporting Norway. This September, the winner of the Israeli embassy in Norway’s start up competition StartJerusalem will be announced by OurCrowd’s Jon Medved during Oslo Innovation Week. Winners of the competition will win a trip to Israel, which will include a visit to the OurCrowd offices and mentoring. He will be a keynote speaker at Oslo’s Cutting Edge Festival to talk about OurCrowd and ReWalk, an inspiring portfolio company making a difference for disabled people, as well as taking part in a fireside-chat during the launch of a new book titled Startup Israel.

With more countries considering the future, OurCrowd is happy to serve as a conduit to the innovative, vibrant hi-tech environment in Israel. Perhaps soon, “Israel” and “Oslo” in the same sentence will be synonymous with tech innovation.

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