Israel is known for being an innovation giant. The Israeli startup ecosystem is home to thousands of startups, in almost every high-tech domain: telecom, cyber-security, bio-med, fin-tech, ad-tech, data analysis, and many others. Israeli entrepreneurs lead some of the most promising startups, while others have been brought on by global tech enterprises to lead their innovation after their ventures were acquired.
A combination of culture, environment and keen strategy has led Israel to a tech boom that rivals Silicon Valley. Yet, Israeli innovation is not covering all global areas of innovation. There are a few domains that are nearly absent from the Israeli startup scene, one of which is Ed-Tech.
While the global Ed-Tech numbers are steadily growing, and the numbers of investment rounds along with the money raised have on average doubled every year over the last 5 years, the Israeli Ed-Tech market seems to have been left behind. Fortunately, this is about to change. An emerging ecosystem, including more than 100 new Ed-Tech ventures and entrepreneurs backed by young as well as legacy accelerators and funding, and even a huge “exit”, indicates that Ed-Tech in Israel is about to join the global party. It is worthwhile to examine the key factors in this evolving change, some of which are unique and specific to the education and learning domain in Israel.
It goes without saying that Israel is a pool of both innovators and talent. Less was historically said about the Ed-Tech entrepreneurship potential. Two relatively new yet distinguished directions should be noted, both of which are a result of the maturity of the Israeli startup ecosystem.
Firstly, serial entrepreneurs and high-tech veterans are looking for new domains that have a disruptive potential. For them, education and learning domains are promising choices—not just because technology has a huge potential to change the way we learn, but also because now, after succeeding in one (and in some cases, a few) , they are looking to personally make an impact for the greater good.
Secondly, many are looking for another relevant path. In the last decade, with the encouragement of government programs, many high-tech workers have chosen to change their career and become educators. While most of than are fulfilled at the head of a class, others still hunger for technology and innovation. By entering the Ed-Tech market, they can merge their former and new careers, equipped with deep technology backgrounds and first-hand knowledge about the pains of today’s educational system.
With such a popular trend, it is not surprising that many of the innovative entrepreneurs that EDvantage met with during the last year have followed this path.
The Israeli Education system
Technophilia is very much embedded deeply in the Israeli culture, and the teachers are no exception. The teachers have a crucial rule in the Israeli Ed-Tech ecosystems; many, even without an entrepreneur background, are looking for new ways to enhance the way they teach by using technology. Some teachers even work on new ventures that may become start-ups.
These teachers are becoming agents for new technologies in the classroom, turning the Israeli education system into a large sandbox for new start-ups. This, along with the relatively small size of the Israeli education system, provide a short validation cycle that is so important in the early stage of a start-up. Moreover, the characteristics of Israeli society provide access to a diverse, multi-language, and multi-culture landscape, and can mimic different global needs and set-ups.
The military service
The Israeli Universal military service is an important factor in the Israeli start-up ecosystem—Responsibility in young ages and exposure to cutting-edge technologies, combined with an environment and culture that encourages leadership. In the context of learning, the army excels in one more aspect: it is a large and effective training system. Under pressure for effectiveness, the army boosts innovative methods for learning, often powered by various technologies. The aforementioned benefits are widely known and recognized; what is less discussed is the benefit that young soldiers receive from the military training programs. Former Israeli soldiers that served as training instructors are the perfect agents to convey this disruption into the civil world.
It is generally agreed that there is huge potential in educational technology. Yet most of the implementations of technology till now have focused on amplifying the existing system, based on academic knowledge from the education sciences and psychology. Emerging fields of research such as data analysis and brain research are opening novel and implementations for new technologies in the education and learning domain. The Israeli Academy is one of the world’s leading institutions of research in these fields. Moreover, Israel is leading the way in multidisciplinary research that is also applicable to education and learning. Like in others academic domains, we will witness movement from research to implementation via start-ups and entrepreneurial ventures.
Together, all these factors turn Israel into one of the best places to innovate and execute an Ed-Tech start-up—now, and in the coming years. We believe that Ed Tech entrepreneurs will follow the huge success of the Start-Up Nation, and will impact the way we learn and teach, at all ages. That is why we are here at EDvantage; join us, and change the way the world learns.