Connecting Cincinnati and Israel Through Innovation
Maybe it's an extra dose of chutzpah or strong survivor skills honed in a war-stressed region, but Israeli citizens have the highest density of start-ups anywhere, 3,850 for every 1,844 Israelis, according to authors Dan Senor and Saul Singer in their book, Start-Up Nation
. Israel has attracted over twice as much venture capital per person as the U.S. and more than 30 times more than Europe.
This amazing track record for a country with only 7.1 million people that is about the size of New Jersey is something many communities here in the U.S. would like to emulate, says Shep Englander, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
He says the go-getter attitude in Israel can be attributed to several things: the military service that every young Israeli must fulfill emphasizes individual leadership; the location of the country in a region that is not welcoming to its products means business must be innovative to adapt to far reaching markets; and the business culture is tolerant of failure, so young entrepreneurs forge ahead on ideas without fear. Englander attends the annual Globes Israel Business Conference in Tel Aviv, held in December, which brings together businesses from Israel and the U.S. to foster cooperation. This year, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's
Vice President for Economic Development Doug Moormann also attended to reach out to the Israel Chamber of Commerce as a start toward beginning a multi-national relationship between Israeli and Cincinnati businesses, says Englander.
Israel's dependence on foreign markets to create growth for its base of companies means that cities such as Cincinnati can help facilitate important ties to the U.S. Israel also looks to outside countries for help with services such as marketing and consumer research, two industries that Cincinnati is well known for. Moormann says that he hopes to see Cincinnati become a major destination for Israeli businesses looking to tap into our success in consumer marketing.
"Our proposition to them is that you can find top notch services (in Cincinnati) for a lower cost than in London or New York," says Moormann, noting that many Israeli companies now collaborate with businesses in those cities for advertising and marketing.
Without pro-active steps to attract Israeli business, Cincinnati might be passed over for the larger cities, he says. Moormann says that efforts the Cincinnati chamber made over the last 25 years to attract Japanese investment in the area resulted in more than 100 Japanese companies coming to the region. He says he wants the same kind of success to come from new efforts with Israel.
Two businesses in Cincinnati that have already forged strong ties with Israel are Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
and Procter & Gamble
. Julie Morin, administrator for international patient care and education at CCHMC, says that within the last year the hospital has signed memorandums of understanding, essentially agreements to work together, with both Schneider Children's Medical Center in Petach Tikvah and Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She says she feels the relationships can benefit CCHMC through the shared pool of talent and research, the knowledge Israel offers in taking new concepts to market, and the growth in international patient care the hospital could see.
No specific endeavors have resulted yet from the new agreements, but Morin says the hospital is optimistic that collaboration will bring about growth.
"Israel is very skilled at taking innovation to market," she says. "We're not so skilled at that. We think we can learn from them and that would be a great benefit."
Marc Levitt, a colorectal surgeon at CCHMC, says he has worked with physicians in Israel for several years and feels the exchange of research and ideas between the two hospitals helps improve treatments for children in both communities and also enhances CCHMC as a global leader in pediatric medicine. Guy Peri, director of business analytics global for P&G, says that P&G's Israel House of Innovation has produced several successful concepts since its inception three years ago.
"There's a huge amount of innovation coming out of Israel and we wanted to be able to harvest that," says Peri.
In turn, P&G provides Israeli innovators with access to global markets and business consulting, he says.Cincinnati can capitalize on partnerships with Israel in much the same way, he adds.
"I think there's lots of opportunities for Cincinnati to benefit from increasing business partnerships with Israel. Israel would look at Cincinnati as a hub for investment here, and any exchange of talent and investments would benefit both."
Cincinnati is not the only city in Ohio to take notice of the business-making power of Israel. The city of Akron is five years into a partnership with an Israeli incubator, Targetech
in Netanya, and has brought two new technology companies to its community, says Bob Bowman, deputy mayor for economic development.
"We think we can eventually bring in three to five companies per year," says Bowman. "Some of these companies could very quickly generate significant sales. Some will become global."
Akron will benefit from potential job growth and economic stimulus that comes from growing, thriving businesses, he says. That's what Moormann says he'd like to see for Cincinnati too.
"Our efforts are in the early stages. But our goal is to add new jobs," he says.The co-author of Start-up Nation: The Story Israel's Economic Miracle, Dan Senor, will be speaking about his best-selling book in Cincinnati Tuesday, March 16, at 7:30 pm at the Mayerson Jewish Community Center. The event is free and open to the public, however space is limited. For more information go here or call 985-1511.