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June 14, 2012

@ Israel: Business and beyond

Posted by Krishnan Narayanan (View Profile | View All Posts) at 11:39 AM


I'm back from an invigorating trip to Israel. But the excitement, really, began a while ago with a vision that we have at Infosys:  To become the network of networks, where we bring together innovation networks from around the world and make it all relevant to our clients. In recent times, I've been engaging with several research and innovation networks in Australia, Finland and Netherlands. Infosys Labs, in tandem, is looking to leverage the external innovation ecosystem as part of our efforts to evaluate early stage technologies that can energize this agenda. And Israel - the highly innovative country that it is - topped our consideration list as we began our early explorations. 

Did you know? Israel ranks 1st in R&D investments investing 4.5% of its GDP in R&D. The Country has the highest per capita patents and has over 1000 active start-ups in the arena of Information Technology. To encourage MNC-startup partnerships in Israel, the Office of the Chief Scientist (yes, they have one for the country!) has established a dedicated "Global Enterprise Collaboration Program".  And Infosys signed an MoU with the Office to drive industrial research and development.  Of course, the signing of the MoU in Jerusalem was a grand affair. Israel's Chief Scientist, Avi Hasson and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour, Shalom Simhon graced the occasion as Subu Goparaju, SVP and Head of Infosys Labs, signed the MoU on behalf of Infosys.

I met with over 25 Israeli start-ups operating in the spaces of Cloud computing, security, analytics and sustainability over the next 3 days. What really made an indelible impression on me was the sheer passion that came through from the founders - several of them having seeded two to three successful companies. Many of the companies were small-sized ones - just 3-8 developers sometimes! The markets of US and Europe figured on their target lists, of course, but India featured prominently too. (Surprisingly, I did not hear much talk of India as a development base for these start-ups). Israel is also investing heavily into include cleantech, homeland security, life sciences and agrotech. In fact, I visited a kibbutz housing the manufacturing plant of a firm operating in the sustainability space.

Now, before you imagine it was all work and no play for me, let me set the record straight. From ethnic Jerusalem to energetic Tel Aviv, Israel is a tourist's delight. Whether its history and culture you enjoy or the languor of beaches and café-dotted streets, Israel won't disappoint. But, this ain't a travelogue so I'll say no more. 

But, you'll find me popping back, soon, to tell you how Infosys Labs is collaborating with innovative start-ups in Israel. And then the excitement will begin all over again....

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