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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Some good news stories about Israel

A new report came out ranking the world's leading nations for innovation and technology. Some of the results:

The first map charts the percentages of economic output countries devote to R&D investment. The U.S. ranks sixth. Israel is in first place, followed by Sweden, Finland, Japan, and Switzerland, which make up the top five. South Korea, Germany, Denmark, and France round out the top ten. Canada ranks 13th.

The second map charts scientific and engineering researchers per capita. The United States ranks seventh. Finland takes the top spot, followed by Sweden, Japan, Singapore, and Denmark. Norway, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand round out the top ten. [For some reason, Israel is not listed at all in the full report in this category, probably the authors could not get complete data. -EoZ]

The third map plots innovations, measured as patents per capita. Now, the United States takes first place, followed by Japan, Switzerland, Finland, and Israel. Sweden, Germany, Canada, Denmark, and Hong Kong round out the top ten.

By combining all three of these measures, we end up with an overall Global Technology Index, a broad assessment of the technological and innovative capabilities of the world’s leading nations. The United States ranks third. Finland takes the top spot, followed by Japan. Israel’s fourth place finish may come as a surprise to some. But as Dan Senor and Saul Singer argue in Start-up Nation, Israel has relentlessly pursued an economic development strategy based on launching innovative firms. Israel has the highest concentration of engineers in the world—135 per 10,000 people, compared to 85 per 10,000 people in the United States. Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Korea, Germany, and Singapore round out the top ten.
From Business Week, September 22:
Never mind the collapse in confidence in Europe, the Palestinian proposal for United Nations recognition and heightened tensions with neighboring Egypt and longtime ally Turkey. The Israeli economy just keeps growing faster than the rest of the developed world.

The International Monetary Fund this week raised its forecast for the country and cut its estimate for the global economy on the impact of the European debt crisis. Israel's gross domestic product will expand 4.8 percent this year, according to the Washington-based lender. That's up from an April forecast of 3.8 percent and triple the pace for the average of the 34 advanced economies.

Citigroup Inc. said on Sept. 18 it would establish a new Israeli research center and Standard & Poor's a week earlier raised the country's credit rating. It cited the discovery of two gas fields off the coast of Israel that hold an estimated 25 trillion cubic feet of the fuel. Mellanox Technologies Ltd., the 12-year-old Israeli adapter maker part-owned by Oracle Corp., says sales will grow 80 percent in the third quarter.

“The Israeli economy is very vibrant,” Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a Sept. 20 interview with Bloomberg Television. “We enjoy very low unemployment and nice economic growth and this is mainly because we managed to develop very advanced high tech industries and very strong exports.”

Israel ranks third in terms of projected growth this year among MSCI's list of 24 developed economies, after 6 percent for Hong Kong and 5.3 percent for Singapore, according to the IMF.

“Israel's exports are high-added value exports like informatics and technology,” said Jean-Dominique Butikofer, a fund manager who helps oversee about $1 billion of emerging- market debt at Union Bancaire Privee in Zurich, including quasi- sovereign Israeli bonds. “They're not exporting Gucci bags. If there's a slowdown, these are the kind of assets that are good to have.”

Venture-capital backed Israeli technology companies raised $364 million in the second quarter of this year, a 77 percent jump from the $206 million raised in the year-earlier period, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP Moneytree report. Seventy-six companies raised funding in the three-month period, compared with only 60 last year, the report said.

“One reason that the economy continues to do well is the component of innovation and ability to adapt to a changing environment,” Citigroup Israel Managing Director Ralph Shaaya said in explaining the New York-based bank's decision to locate a research center in Israel. ‘There is a rich pool of talent in the high tech sector. The propensity for innovation is high.”
From Israel HaYom:
Israel is the only country in the Middle East with universities on the Top 200 World University Rankings list from Times Higher Education (THE), which is released annually in conjunction with the start of the new school year.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem ranked 121st and Tel Aviv University placed 166th.
I am getting more and more convinced that Israel's long-term security is best served by having a strong economy, one that not only serves the needs of Israelis by keeping it economically independent but one that has such a large impact on the world that nations would themselves directly feel the loss if Israel is not secure.

Think of it this way: China's human rights record is abysmal, but because the economic potential there is so gigantic the world overlooks that issue. So even if Israel is losing the PR battle to BDS-supporting haters, a strong economy would go a great way towards muting their whining.