[REPORT] Conference : “From Start-Up Nation to CyberNation? A look back at the Israeli experience of cyberspace”

Speaker: Ilan Scialom, geopolitologist, entrepreneur and expert in cyberspace. Graduate of the École Normale Supérieure Ulm and the Université Paris Panthéon Sorbonne.

In this context, geopolitics is a major tool for understanding and analyzing cyberspace, making it possible to appreciate its multiple dimensions. In an unstable geopolitical and geostrategic environment, Israel began thinking early on to define an effective e-strategy, based among other things on an ever-widening technological gap with its enemies”.

How did Israel become one of the world’s leading cyber powers? What model does the country present?

1. Startup nation: like a Silicon Valley > birthplace with start-ups and companies
2. Today: the link between geopolitics and cyberspace
3. The Israeli experience of cyberspace

The term start-up nation in Israel > new concept. Entrepreneurship is a major issue. Israel has the highest number of engineers per 10,000 inhabitants (140 engineers per 1,000 employees). This is more than in the United States and Russia. The country of 21 000 km2 and about 8.7 million inhabitants. There is a research culture there. The country is 2nd in terms of “Venture capital” in percentage. There are some notable successes: WAZE, ICQ, Mobileye, USB (sold to Intel for 15 billion dollars), pill cameras that can be swallowed for surgery.

Seven elements explain why Israel is a start-up nation:

– Geopolitical context (troubled space)
– Army as a major technology integrator
– Entrepreneurial spirit
– Dimension of Economic Intelligence
– Incubators (more than 1500 start-ups incubated)
– Venture capital
– Academic Excellence

Size, geopolitics and diplomacy are primordial

The geostrategic context is unstable and the perception of threats is growing. Israel has only two border countries with which it is in “peace”: Egypt and Jordan. For the rest, the situation is becoming more complicated. With Lebanon, there is a constant risk of war. Israel is therefore a contained space. The country is therefore part of a concept of “strategic creation” in terms of innovation.

Few concepts operated:

  • The “Tfisat habitahon”: national strategic concept

The 3D: Threat detection with intelligence services, deterrence and decisive Victory. Israel sees the need to have a technological “gap” with other countries. The Israelis want to develop grey matter because they have no other resources through the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

  •  Technological and human mix

There are many universities as well as institutions born well before the State and always current > in 1912: Technian of Haifan, in 1925: Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition, Hebrew was reborn as a vernacular language (before German was thought of).

  •  Concept of “tech transfer”: Israeli speciality

In charge of promoting students’ research between fundamental research and the market. It is also about promoting and funding student research. Once a start-up is created, it is immediately sold 5 years later, the aim being to create start-ups and to have royalties. Israel also has a high-tech, defence and security logic: “no retail but innovation”. Moreover, Israeli investment in early-stage where it is most dangerous.

  • The phenomenon of “clustering

Start-ups will cluster (government support, porosity between civil and military sectors in Israel).

  •  Not invented here” complex in Israel

It pushes inspiration on others.

  •  Phenomenon of gathering

Significant cohesion via the army (three years of compulsory military service), “Unit 8200” cryptographic intelligence. The military is seen as a technology integrator.

Conference at Telecom ParisTech, on 18/06.