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EIT Hub Israel boosting innovation ecosystems

The State of Israel formally associated with Horizon Europe to foster ground-breaking innovation. The programme offers significant scientific and economic benefits to both Europe and Israel, and holds immense potential for learning, exchange and collaboration.

An example of such exchange is the Ecosystem Summit organised by the EIT Hub in Israel, launched as part of the 2019 EIT Global Outreach Programme. The conference has become a must-attend event to discuss the latest global trends and challenges in the ecosystem world. 

A win-win exchange: cooperation between the EU and Israel 

On December 6 2021, the agreement on Israel’s association with Horizon Europe, the world’s largest research and innovation programme with a total budget of EUR 95,5 billion, came into force after being signed by Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth and Haim Regev, Israel’s Ambassador to the EU and NATO.

Over the past 25 years, cooperation between the EU and Israel has been consistently evolving, bringing many benefits along the way. Israel’s innovation processes are very agile, with a “fire-fighting” approach that deals mainly with short-term timelines. And they have proven that this works: Israel has the largest number of start-ups per capita in the world (about one per 1,400 inhabitants) and ranks first in the world in R&D spending as a percentage of GDP.

One of the key ingredients of Israel’s innovation ecosystem is deeply embedded in the country’s daily reality. It lies in the sense of urgency and constraints to survive and innovate today for a better tomorrow. With the example of Israel in mind, it is exciting to see the potential when start-ups unite around a common mission. For Europe and beyond, this can be the driver that enables companies to excel and deliver truly unique and innovative solutions rapidly. 

Bram Pauwels, Strategic Partnership Manager at European Business and Innovation Centre Network. 

On the other hand, Europe has a long-term approach to certain societal issues. This allows European countries to be proactive rather than reactive. While the action takes longer, decisions are made in a structured, evidence-based way. From the perspective of this continuum, Europe and Israel are clearly complementary. 

We represent two extremes, and knowing that the best combination tends to be in the middle, our alliance ensures that we both move forward and reinforce the best on each side.

Michal Seror, Ecosystem Development Director at Start-Up Nation Central. 

Europe’s goal of becoming the first carbon-neutral continent and leading the global green transition might inspire and gently push Israel’s high-tech sector to address the climate emergency. Although there are exciting initiatives in Israel such as the Climate Solutions Prize (a USD 1M prize for innovative responses to the climate crisis sponsored by KKL-JNF in collaboration with Start-Up Nation Central and the Peres Centre for Peace and Innovation), a holistic strategy by the so-called ‘Start-up Nation’ to solve the climate crisis could make a global difference. 

The Ecosystem Summit: Building the European-Israeli innovation community

A successful example of EU-Israel collaboration is the aforementioned EIT Hub Israel, launched as part of the 2019 EIT Global Outreach Programme. The EIT Innovation Communities involved are EIT Health (lead), EIT FoodEIT Climate-KICEIT Urban MobilityEIT RawMaterials and EIT Digital as observers. The Hub supports European innovators in attracting Israeli customers, partners and investors and has developed powerful programmes targeting specific audiences, such as Disrupt me (European companies looking to introduce Israeli innovation) or Mission Innovation (an immersion bootcamp for European diplomats), and Connect & Experience (professional training for ecosystem leaders) which facilitates The Ecosystem Summit, the annual conference to celebrate, consolidate and expand the European-Israeli innovation community.

The first Ecosystem Summit took place in 2019 and is held annually. This year’s edition set a new record with 140 participants, 20 top speakers, 6 panels, 3 breakout rooms and 19 ecosystem managers from 12 European countries (Belgium, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Czech Republic, Italy and Sweden). Following the strictest COVID-19 security measures, the 2021 edition was an in-person event that allowed face-to-face professional exchange during the panels, breakout rooms and the main networking event.

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