Timeline of an Evolving Ecosystem

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Phase 1: National survival strategy The development of the Israeli innovation ecosystem must be seen within the context of the last 120 years of Jews returning in large numbers to their homeland. Early Jewish settlers had no choice but to survive, addressing their existential needs with innovative solutions, trying, failing and trying again. Phase 2: Exporting innovation After the establishment of the country in 1948, Israelis discovered that innovative approaches developed locally can solve similar problems for many countries around the world. Israel started sharing its knowledge and expertise, identifying new problems along the way. Phase 3: The diffusion of technology In the early 1990’s, Israelis started to realize that the skills and expertise they developed could be used to address completely different challenges. In the past 25 years, the diffusion of Israeli technology around the world has led to Israel’s innovation ecosystem becoming one of the biggest and most technologically advanced innovation hubs in the world. This timeline summarizes the principal milestones of all three phases, clearly showing how Israel’s impressive technology ecosystem has evolved over the years – from the laying of the Technion’s cornerstone in 1912 up until Intel’s recent acquisition of Mobileye for $15.3 billion.

1912 | Technion

The first cornerstone of the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology was laid in Haifa. Two new Technion campuses were recently inaugurated: in New York and in China.

1921 | Volcani Institute

The Volcani Institute is established, becoming an incubator for Israel’s agritech ecosystem.

1925 | Hebrew University

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is inaugurated. Over 100 start-ups are associated with The Hebrew University.

1933 | IMI Systems

Israel Military Industries (today IMI Systems) is founded, manufacturing the Uzi, Galil, Negev, Tavor and other weapons.

1934 | Weizmann Institute of Science

The Weizmann Institute of Science (formerly the Daniel Sieff Research Center) is established in Rehovot.

1948 | Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.

The Science Corps (now called Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.) was founded as the national R&D lab for developing military technology, including the Iron Dome missile defense system.

1950 | IBM

IBM Israel becomes the first official foreign tech company operating in Israel.

1953 | IAI

Israel Aerospace Industries is founded. IAI has developed numerous civilian and military aircraft.

1955 | WEIZAC

The first computer is set up in Israel at The Weizmann Institute of Science, called WEIZAC

1963 | Hebrew University

A team from The Hebrew University makes breakthrough discoveries about the medical qualities of cannabis, enabling Israel to become a pioneer in medical marijuana.

1964 | Motorola

Motorola opens an R&D center in Israel, marking the first such center to be opened in the country by a multinational corporation.

1965 | Ormat Technologies

Ormat Technologies is established in Yavne, becoming a world leader in alternative energy production.

1965 | Netafim

The agritech company Netafim is founded, later developing the first high-quality drip irrigation equipment, sold in over 100 countries.

1966 | Elbit Systems

Elbit Systems is founded, and becomes a leader in aerospace, land and naval systems, intelligence surveillance, unmanned aircraft systems and advanced electro-optics.

1969 | Israel Innovation Authority

The Office of the Chief Scientist (now the Israel Innovation Authority) is formed and tasked with fostering industrial R&D in Israel.

1969 | Elscint

Elscint is founded, excelling in nuclear medicine, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and X-ray scanners.

1974 | Intel

1974 Intel opens an R&D center in Haifa. Intel has become the largest tech employer in Israel with over 10,000 employees.

1984 | The R&D Law

Law for the Encouragement of Industrial Research and Development (The R&D Law) is passed.

1986 | Applied Materials

Applied Materials opens in Israel and later acquires Opal Technologies, Orbot Instruments and Oramir Semiconductor Equipment Ltd.

1987 | IAI

IAI develops the Lavi fighter jet. The project was later abandoned, and its 5,000 scientists and engineers went on to contribute greatly to Israel's high-tech boom.

1989 | M-Systems

Dov Moran establishes M-Systems, best known for developing the first USB flash drive, DiskOnKey. In 2006, the company was acquired by SanDisk.

1990 | Fall of the Iron Curtain

A huge influx of highly educated immigrants from the former Soviet Union sparks an impressive expansion of the country’s high-tech industry, leading to rapid GDP growth.

1993 | Yozma

The Israeli government launches the Yozma (Initiative) program that offers incentives to foreign venture-capital funds setting up shop in Israel.

1993 | Checkpoint

Checkpoint is established, developing the world’s first commercial firewall and VPN.

1996 | Mirabilis

Mirabilis is founded and develops the ICQ instant messaging application. ICQ was purchased by AOL for $407M in 1998.

2007 | Shai Agassi

Better Place, a venture-backed company that developed battery-charging services for electric cars, is founded by Shai Agassi. It later filed for bankruptcy.

2008 | Global Crisis

The global financial crisis causes a number of Israeli start-ups to go out of business while even more are picked up in increased M&A activity.

2011 | Alternative Fuels Administration

Israel’s Alternative Fuels Administration is created, tasked with reducing the country’s oil consumption.

2011 | National Cyber Bureau

Israel’s National Cyber Bureau is established in order to advance Israeli innovation in the cyber field.

2012 | Face.com

Facebook buys Israel’s Face.com, a platform for efficient and accurate facial recognition.

2013 | Waze

Google buys Waze, the popular crowdsourced navigation app, for more than $1 billion.

2013 | PrimeSense

Apple acquires PrimeSense, an Israeli 3D sensing company.

2014 | Onavo

Facebook acquires Israeli mobile analytics and data compression start-up Onavo.

2016 | Playtika

A Chinese consortium linked to Alibaba founder Jack Ma buys the Israeli online gaming company Playtika for $4.4 billion in cash.

2017 | Mobileye

Intel acquires Mobileye for $15.3 billion, the largest exit in Israeli business history.

2017 | Amazon

Amazon announces plans to hire 100 Israeli engineers and experts to boost Alexa.