Creating a new industry is never an easy proposition. Part of the work is building a tangible vision that people can ascribe to. I was thinking about this in a recent conversation with a founder of a great Israeli start-up who compared his work with that of friends in high-tech. When Israeli high-tech start-ups need strategic partners, Silicon Valley is next door. Google, Apple, Microsoft, HP, eBay, IBM and many more are just up the street in Herzliya, Tel-Aviv, Petach Tikva, and if you need to go really far, Raanana.
DevTech entrepreneurs don't have it so easy. The Gates Foundation has given out prizes here, like this one for malaria diagnosis, but there is no R&D center like Microsoft's in Herliya. The large development aid consulting firms don't have back-offices in the holy land. Corporate titans and minnows are only slowly discovering the start-up nation.
He's right, but things are beginning to change. TATA invested in TAU's Ramot TTO. The IFC just invested in Kaiima. At WATEC, a number of integrators focused specifically on addressing the challenges faced by developing countries were in attendance. From Global Health to Food Security, the biggest NGOs and MNCs are dipping their toes in Israel.
In 10 years, when we've succeeded, there will be hundreds of start-ups focused on DevTech, and the biggest names in International Development will have innovation labs, venture operations, and technology scouts in Israel.