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Inside the Israeli Impact Tech Ecosystem - Sankalp Forum 2020

On November 4th, the Pears Program for Global Innovation led a panel representing the Israeli ecosystem of innovation for development at The Sankalp Forum 2020 Virtual conference. The Sankalp Forum is one of the biggest annual global conferences on the Global South's Impact Economy, promoting business-led solutions to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

We organized a virtual panel discussion with Nicky Newfield from Arc Impact, Hilly Hirt from The Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) and Ariel Beery from CoVelocity, moderated by Hagit Freud, Managing Director at Pears Program for Global Innovation.

The panel began with a discussion on why the Israeli innovation ecosystem holds great potential for delivering significant impact given the global advancement in technology and innovation. However, Israel is still far from being where it should be in terms of the amount of technologies deployed and the impact made in emerging markets. The panel started with each of the panelists describing how they are working to help Israel fulfill its potential in this space.

The IIA, an independent government funded entity that encourages the private sector to innovate by mitigating their risk, invests millions of dollars into companies across all sectors and its investments are determined by the market's needs. Hilly spoke about the existing dilemma of Israeli entrepreneurs that have great skills developing innovative technologies but lack knowledge about operating in the emerging markets they are targeting. IIA provides a launching pad for companies facing this dilemma. Arc impact is an Impact VC which invests in early stage start-ups. Nicky spoke about the variety of wonderful technologies she sees in Israel and how she wishes to see more that address global challenges. CoVelocity is a new company that Ariel recently co-founded, which distributes health technologies to areas across the globe that aren’t commonly reached. Ariel spoke about his motivation to accelerate global market penetration of life saving technologies, and to minimize inequitable access to healthcare.

While these organizations reflect the dynamic and productive terrain for innovation for development across Israel, the panel focused on what is still missing for the Israeli ecosystem to deliver on its potential..

One of the main issues discussed was the lack of partnerships within the field. Ariel noted this in relation to the absence of co-development between NGOs, local actors and the developers of technologies. Nicky commented on the need to have a greater understanding and coordination between the technology developed and the market it is reaching, similarly to how Hilly emphasized the importance of understanding the markets needs and how to show that the technology is something worth taking a risk on and has a relevant fit . Through obtaining a greater understanding of the markets, including its complexity and size, entrepreneurs will possess the necessary tools to understand and connect with their target market.

The panel discussion emphasized the importance of partnerships between actors in Israel and actors in target markets. The issue of partnering with potential customers from an early stage was underlined by Ariel, and depicted accurately through the term “venture customers". Based on his experience, Ariel said the most valuable partners to Israeli entrepreneurs are partners operating on the ground that can be venture customers.

”Venture customers are customers who understand the problem, know that the current solutions don’t address these problems sufficiently and are willing to take a chance, with their organizational time and resources, in order to see if the solution that the entrepreneur is offering is actually solving the problem”

There is an imminent need for companies to focus on their beneficiaries response to the product in order to see if the company is providing unique value. It is an important step for a business in order to enter i a new market, and is often where Israelis face a challenge given their distance from the target market.

Nicky shared her perspective as an investor, and said that she is always highly impressed by the technologies she comes across, but it is often a challenge to understand the market potential of those technologies. She would love to see more partnerships with philanthropies and with investors from the target market that would help minimize the investment risk and support the companies in understanding the market and maximizing market penetration.

The panel ended on an optimistic note, discussing the potential partnerships and collaborations that could be developed within each organization.

We, at the Pears Program, are committed to enhancing collaboration, building bridges mand enhancing closer collaboration between the Israeli ecosystem and partners in the global south.

Watch the event again here!

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