It has been 50 years since the inception of the Australian-Israel Chamber of Commerce, and the annual conference continues to facilitate crucial dialogue in sphere of Australia-Israel relations.
I was invited to lend to join the virtual roundtable, ‘The Transformation We Need to Have’, which considered several key areas for partnership between Australia and Israel, as well as concrete action needed to drive global change.
THE FOCUS OF INNOVATION
A key theme emerging from the conference was the need to draw on lessons from Israel’s leadership in innovation. No longer known as purely the start-up nation, Israel is gaining prominence as the scaleup nation, demonstrating unprecedented expansion of entrepreneurial endeavours and product developments. With record tech listings and an innovation ecosystem second only to Silicon Valley, Israel is expected to reach close to 100 unicorns by the end of 2021.
The nation has also recorded a world-leading vaccination rollout in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued to nurture highly successful cyber, agriculture, water and healthcare sectors across 2020/21 despite the global challenge.
LESSONS FROM THE ALLIANCE
Israel and Australia already boast a strong and spirited alliance. As liberal democracies, with common goals, intelligence avenues, defence strategies and supply chain securities; President of the AICC Jillian Segal AO believes in the value of the transnational collaboration.
Jillian Segal encourages Australia to seize the growth that has been enhanced over the past two years due to the pandemic and respond to the rapidly changing business and economic environment. She believes that Australian organisations should be encouraged to focus on accelerating digital transformation drawing on Israel’s example, with the mission to grow and retain talent – a key challenge in 2021.
According to Jillian Segal, it is imperative to instil a new sense of urgency in both the public and private sectors, to ensure appropriate foundations are laid for the future of Australia.
The development of world-class innovation precincts across the country
Attracting appropriate investment for business and sectors with great promise
Setting in place the right gov and regulatory settings to provide a more effective translation and commercialization of our globally ranked research capabilities.
CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority, Dror Bin, echoes Jillian Segal's observations and shares his insights into why innovation and industry investment is so successful in Israel.
Dror Bin cites the structure of the national Innovation Authority, as an independent professional agency and non-political entity. The agency is publicly funded and works independently when deciding how to stimulate and incentivize industry.
The authority works to ignite the private sector to attend to independent business, creating an environment of growth and prosperity not just under the authority itself. The need to support growing companies, amplify the efforts of entrepreneurs, create incubators and empower public-private partnership is essential.
I believe Australian leaders should hone in on the 3 ‘P’s at the heart of nation-wide growth:
Private sector investment
With an increase in uncertainty in investing in the private sector, I highlighted the need for top-down policies, in which sectors are strengthened by private funding. It is also important to remove bureaucratic hurdles and give people the skills needed to speed up transformation.
Australia also needs to harness the post-COVID-19 momentum in the technology industry, as 2020 saw the adoption of increased work flexibility, and remote work and learning. AI has emerged as not just a vehicle of ease and convenience, but a sometimes unavoidable option required to support livelihoods.
The technology industry is the third-largest in Australia behind financial services and mining, representing 8.5% of annual GDP. With this in mind, the importance of investing in not just people for skills, but in technology, to support rapid scaling.
SAFEGUARDING AUSTRALIA'S FUTURE
The future needs to ensure that humanity avoids polarisation and is guided by pragmatic and sensible leaders.
The energy transition and move to renewables is an urgent undertaking over the next three decades.
Purpose based business and continual adherence to ESG goals is essential to ensure a successful transformation in which companies are held responsible.
The reimagining of education is also essential, increasing the number of students entering the workforce earlier and gaining tertiary up-skilling and workforce skills.
Diversification in the development of the Australian space industry, telemedicine and electric vehicle industry should continue.
Automation in the management of remote assets, including agriculture, rail and truck systems, is also emphasised as a key focus area.