.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Tel Aviv one of "world's most creative cities"

From the Globe and Mail:

For the better part of a decade, the Martin Prosperity Institute at U of T’s Rotman School of Management has been studying the complex web of factors that encourage and sustain innovation in regions around the world. First published in 2004, the institute’s Global Creativity Index measures a nation’s innovation potential, focusing on what it calls the Three Ts: technology, talent and tolerance. We used this index, but also dove deeper, to choose cities that are best positioned to nurture their creative edge into the future. "The GCI is really trying to help regions understand where they are," explains Kevin Stolarick, research director of the Martin Prosperity Institute. "Even when times are good, you have to worry about what comes next."

The entire population of Israel may only number seven million—smaller than New York City—but this Middle Eastern state spends more of its GDP on research and development than any other nation. And it shows. In April, 2011, Israeli software start-ups PicApp and PicScout sold for a combined $30 million (all currency in U.S. dollars) to Indian and American buyers, respectively. A month later, cellular company Provigent was snapped up by U.S. chip maker Broadcom for $313 million, while Google paid $70 million for app developer Snaptu. In September, eBay bought e-commerce site The Gifts Project for a reported $20 million. All are start-ups. All have offices in or near Tel Aviv. In the first three quarters of 2011 alone, 422 Israeli start-ups raised $1.57 billion in venture capital, and an estimated 250 multinationals maintain R&D operations there. What makes Silicon Wadi—as the coastal region between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is known—so special? Some say that a service requirement in the country’s famously high-tech military has given many young Israelis a technological sophistication that bolsters creativity and inventiveness. What we do know is that while Tel Aviv is small, it’s one giant innovation engine.

“In Israel, personal relationships aren’t all that relevant to business. Israelis will do business with you within five seconds of meeting you. In fact, there’s virtually no small talk at meetings. Nothing. Zero. They’re very direct.” —Dr. Neal Naimer, CEO of Woojer, a Tel Aviv-based start-up.

(h/t Yerushalimey)