Israel is listed as the 159th smallest country in the world and about the size of New Jersey, or specifically 470km by 135km at its widest and longest points. Keeping that in mind it blew me away to learn that in proportion to its population it has the largest number of startup companies in the world (of course they don’t ALL succeed). Oh and they are only behind the US and Canada in terms of the number of companies trading on Wall Street. Think about that for a second, a country as tiny as it is and with such a controversial existence is only ranked behind the US and Canada on Wall Street… I don’t care what you say about the country, that’s mind-blowing for me.
How much of that do you hear about on the news? How about the fact this little country invented an algorithm to enable NASA to send images from Mars and that they were the one to invent that tiny pill with the video camera inside so doctors can see whats going on right from your mouth to well you know the other end. They are a leader in stem cell research and even Intel has a major stake in the country with some of the processor’s for your computers being invented here.
To add to those facts I was also lucky enough to meet a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Aaron Ciechanover from the Technion. His research lead to a major breakthrough in cancer research. This isn’t their only Nobel Laureate either and the list keeps growing with another announced just this past couple of weeks (I believe they have 10 now for a population of 7-8 million or so). I don’t remember the last time a winner was announced for my poor little Australia.
To add to that list of “I never knew that facts“, I actually got to experience driving a fully electric car while in Tel Aviv. The folks at Better Place are rolling out fully electric cars right across Israel. With charging stations already installed all over the country and battery swap stations going up so you can enjoy a drive without having to stop and charge on your trip. Driving the car was an absolute trip. You know when you turn the key of your car and wait for the usual noise etc? Yeah I didn’t even know the car had started until the guy told me. Check out the video below for a look of me driving.
Perhaps it was a little naive of me to think of a country in this way but when I thought of Israel way back before my trip I never ever had ideas of Nobel laureate winners, advanced medical research or even electric cars being associated with the country. Quite a difference from the far more sinister and less inviting topics that I’ve grown up with on the news.
Out of everything I saw and learnt about it’s not the great inventions and research that blows me away (even though they are amazing), it’s the fact that all of this has come about in the last 30 or so years while the country has been tied up in wars and so much unrest. I don’t care what your belief of the country is, you have to pat them on the back and say job well done for providing such valuable knowledge and tools to the world.