The Freakonomics blog posted a great summary of Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, a new book on the ingredients that have gone into vigorous startup environment over in Israel. A few key facts from the Freakonomics write-up that you might not be aware of:
Israel has the highest density of tech start-ups in the world. More importantly, these start-ups attract more venture capital dollars per person than any country — 2.5 times the U.S., 30 times Europe, 80 times India, and 300 times China. Israel has more companies on the tech-oriented NASDAQ than any country outside the U.S., more than all of Europe, Japan, Korea, India, and China combined.
A few elements are credited with the Israeli startup envirnoment:
- The culture of chutzpah.
- Openness to immigration, and hence access to risk-taking people with new ideas and great talent.
- Mandatory military service has led to mature young people with extraordinary management skills at a young age.
(Some of the comments on the Freakonomics blog point to the large US subsidies as being significant as well, but I fail to see how government subsidies are funneling down to create successful global technology startups).
It gets one thinking. How can we encourage people to take more risks in the USA? Clearly, we’ve got a great startup culture here–particularly in regions like Silicon Valley and Boston, but could we be doing more elsewhere in the country? Is there more we can do to be even more attractive to immigrants who create businesses resulting in hundreds of thousands of new jobs?
The global market for entrepreneurs is heating up. The United States no longer corners the market on innovation; the next Google might come from an unexpected location. For example, Singapore is pursuing an aggressive policy of attracting skilled immigrants and entrepreneurs.
Make no mistake: entrepreneurship is what gives us the wealth and high standard of living we enjoy. Today, the United States is the best society in the world for combining entrepreneurial opportunity, livability and great civil liberties. But let’s not look back in a few decades and wonder what happened to us. Continuing to foster a culture of entrepreneurship along with the nurturing of a large, skilled workforce (whether homegrown, or by welcoming immigrant talent) is key to our collective success in the 21st century.