The State of Israel is known as “the start-up nation.” The OurCrowd Global Investor Summit, which took place in Jerusalem last week, made it abundantly clear why Israel was given that name. OurCrowd, founded in 2013 by CEO Jon Medved, is a global investment platform through which investors throughout the world invest in start-ups. It has grown into the world’s leading online venture investing platform. While it is a super-impressive creation in its own right, the fact that it is centered in Jerusalem and provides, directly and indirectly, so many high-quality prestigious jobs to Israelis is a point of great pride to me.
Following almost a year of planning the event, there was concern that the current political climate as well as the tragic recent terror wave would negatively impact the summit, but fortunately, the event went smoothly. Those who have stated that people are not investing their money and are even pulling their money from Israel would have benefited from attending the OurCrowd Summit. They would see that the business sector in Israel is dynamic and doing quite well. Korea’s leading newspaper gave front-page coverage to the event.
More than 9,000 people from 80 countries, and across the political and religious spectrum, joined at Binyanei Haumah, at the entrance of Jerusalem, to explore the latest in technology and innovation. Fifteen hundred participants came from abroad, with the largest delegation from the Persian Gulf to date. The rest came from all over Israel.
A charge filled the air as attendees caught a glimpse into the future as they walked through the various pavilions exhibiting cutting-edge technology aimed at saving the planet. Every space on the main floors, staircases, and hallways had something to present.
The Food and Agri Tech Space exhibited startups that address the threats of climate change and hunger with technologies revolutionizing the entire food supply chain. Attendees were able to taste SavorEat 3D-printed plant-based burgers in a bun and other alternate foods produced by these companies, all of which were kosher.
The Health Tech Innovation Zone showed technology aimed at extending lifespans and improving quality of life by anything from tackling the obesity epidemic to providing companion robots for the elderly. Sanotize gave out packages that included a testing kit for covid and the flu, a pair of socks, and an anti-viral spray scientifically tested and proven to kill 99% of viruses within two minutes.
Mobility Drive displayed tech-driven transport on the ground and in the air, giving attendees the opportunity to “fly” revolutionary aircraft.
Visitors were invited to explore opportunities for business and investment in Abu Dhabi, Morocco, Hong Kong, Italy, and China. His excellency Abdulla Aziz Al Shamsi, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, spoke on stage for the first time in Israel. He declared his support for the Abraham Accords and Israeli innovation, describing Israel as a model of what Abu Dhabi can become. A representative from the UAE housing department came to recruit Israelis to live in Abu Dhabi where a shul is being built.
Cleantech startup UBQ Materials planned to recycle the waste of the conference into their plastic substitute.
Impact Alley displayed an exhibition of some of the most effective nonprofits including United Hatzalah, Yeshiva University in Israel, and Leket Israel, which distributed leftovers from the summit to those in need. These exhibitions were just a few of the many at the summit.
Throughout the day, there were concurrent speakers, panels, demonstrations, and breakout sessions, along with plenty of opportunities for networking and conducting business meetings in the business hub and networking lounges. As the conference was in Israel, Mincha minyanim could be spotted everywhere.
The crowd was addressed by Yitzchak Herzog, the President of Israel, who stated that the future will be determined not by the resources of the ground, but by the resources of our minds. He noted that we are living in a historic moment in the State of Israel which is now involved in a national debate about the way our democracy is structured. He expressed pride in all of the Israelis, from both sides, who are taking part in this debate, and sees the innovative spirit of the State of Israel also present in the current debate.
U.S. Ambassador Thomas Nides, who in the past had been the managing director and vice-chairman of Morgan Stanley, had a fireside chat with OurCrowd CEO, Jon Medved. He spoke about his upbringing in a Jewish family in Duluth, Minnesota, and emphasized the unbreakable bond between the US and Israel. When Jon Medved asked him if he follows the price of the stock market, Ambassador Nides quipped that while his wife does follow the market, he does not since he doesn’t make much money in his current government job.
One of the highlights of the day was a highly emotional presentation by Alon Zuckerman, President of Surgical Theater, who showed the audience a photo of Itai, an adorable 10-year-old boy who was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer of the pelvis. He explained how his company’s visualization platform was used to make vital decisions before and during Itai’s surgery. At the conclusion of Alon’s presentation, Itai ran on stage with a soccer ball. Baruch Hashem, he made a full recovery. Alon and Itai hugged and then dramatically shared that Itai is Alon’s son! This tender moment brought much of the crowd to tears.
Preparation for next year’s OurCrowd Summit is already underway. Who knows what new innovations are in store for us? But one thing is certain: We will certainly be amazed and proud!