Thank you for your interest in the start-up exchange programme with Israel. Due to the current security situation in Israel, all measures related to this programme are temporarily suspended until further notice.
Thank you very much in advance for your understanding.
Your Innosuisse start-up team
Scope: The Swiss-Israel Lean Launchpad (LLP) is a ten-week programme. It starts in Switzerland, continues for eight weeks online and ends with a week in Israel. Throughout the LLP, Swiss start-ups gradually discover the vibrant Israeli start-up ecosystem: starting with the Israeli organisers and mentors, through targeted introductions with local entrepreneurs, potential business partners and market experts, to full immersion at the end. Each edition is aimed at a group of Swiss start-ups active in a specific cluster , such as health technologies and life sciences, foodtech/agritech or cybersecurity. The meetings are a mix of group sessions and individual exchanges.
Network and business opportunity: As a small country (population 10 million), Israel’s domestic market has limited attractiveness for growth-stage start-ups. The local culture, however, is extremely open to innovation. Many local companies and institutions have experience of working with start-ups and have an open innovation strategy in place. For this reason, Israel could be described as a “beta site”: a destination for proofs of concept, pilots, testing product-market fit assumptions and so on. The LLP helps participants both to identify and contact potential business partners and to overcome any cultural differences during these exchanges.
Access: Sometimes known as the “start-up nation” or the “unicorn nation”, Israel is home to a highly advanced start-up ecosystem. This is why the programme also aims to make the tools and expertise of Israeli entrepreneurs accessible to the participants. Throughout the LLP, the start-ups will be in regular exchange with Israeli entrepreneurs, investors and domain experts with whom they will discuss various subjects such as product development, business model, fundraising strategy, storytelling and so on. The support provided for each topic varies according to the needs of the individual start-up.
Why discover the Israeli market?
For two main reasons: 1. As Israel is a small market, even local start-ups begin developing their products for foreign markets from day one. However, their first customers will very often be local companies and institutions. These institutions have experience of working with start-ups, making Israel suitable for start-ups looking to validate their product and their product-market fit. 2. Israel has a highly developed start-up ecosystem. Its entrepreneurs, investors, lawyers, etc. have a wealth of knowledge that can be of great value to Swiss start-ups.
What can you expect from this exchange?
Firstly, an appreciation of the speed and ambition of Israeli start-ups. Secondly, you can expect short and direct communication. The Israelis get straight to the point – you don’t waste any time with them (for good or for bad), and that’s also the way you should talk to them. Furthermore, Israelis love to share their network. They’ll be happy to introduce you to their connections even after a short conversation.
What is the state of innovation there?
Israel is one of the countries with the most start-ups per capita in the world (~7,000) and the one with the highest level of R&D investment as a percentage of GDP (5.4% in 2020). Investment in start-ups is also very high (USD 16 billion in 2022). The biggest clusters are IT and cybersecurity, and fintech, while healthtech and climate tech (including agritech and foodtech) have seen significant growth in recent years.
How easy is it to find qualified employees and partners?
Israel is home to several highly ranked universities and research institutes. In addition, military service (which is mandatory) serves as a type of vocational training, forming a generation of highly skilled developers, cryptographers, etc.
What opportunities do Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offer?
Tel Aviv is the capital of the Israeli ecosystem. Almost all the major players in Israeli high tech can be found there. It’s also a dynamic city full of activity, day and night. Jerusalem (the official capital) is not as important from a professional standpoint, but is still essential to understand the cultural context of this unique ecosystem.
What are the challenges?
Israel has officially been in a state of emergency since its inception. It’s an unstable country in an unstable neighbourhood, which means plans can change from one day to the next. This might also be the reason that business in Israel is generally faster paced than in Switzerland and places more emphasis on execution than on lengthy periods of planning. However, this is where the Swiss way of doing things – more methodical and planned out – might bring added value to a business connection with Israeli partners.
Last modification 26.10.2023