As the massive Mobile World Congress event began to wind down, the Master Mechanic caught up with Alain Guery, the Analog Garage Director of Emerging Business, at the Barcelona show. Our conversation turned quickly to what we saw at the Israeli Pavilion on the show floor.


Alain Guery

Taken as a group, the 62 startups inside the Pavilion were a microcosm of the show itself: other than a few glitzy smartphones, wearables, VR gear and smart home tech, most companies were focused on critical – if far less sexy – tasks of building secure and capable networks and cloud frameworks to support the onslaught of new devices.  A third of the startups, for example, focused on security while only a dozen featured projects in VR or wearables.


Israel has certainly earned its Startup Nation nickname. The startup scene in Israel is surprisingly large and active for such a small country. And as a measure of its success, only the US and China have more companies on the tech-centric NASDAQ stock exchange than Israel.


In his role at the Analog Garage, Guery spends a lot of time tapping into Analog Devices’ Israeli innovation network. So we decided to take the opportunity to tap into his expertise.


Q: Just how vibrant is Israel’s startup activity?

A: Israel is a full-on startup country. There are something like 4,000 active startups, which is about one startup for every 2,700 inhabitants. No other country has that many startups per capita.


Q: Every country’s startup culture is a little different. What makes the Israeli scene unique?

A: First of all, the Israeli market isn’t large enough to support many new innovations by itself. So entrepreneurs there think globally – far more so than innovators in large markets like India.


Another thing I’ve seen is that Israeli startups are very focused on solving specific technical problems. Startups in Silicon Valley and the US tend to have more of a big vision, a grand plan. In that sense, the two startup cultures are very complementary, because many times you’ll see an Israeli startup working on an answer to a technical problem that a Silicon Valley company will need to achieve their vision. We really gravitate to that kind of thinking at the Analog Garage. Solving specific technical problems is what ADI was founded on.


Q: Why do you think Israel’s startup scene has blossomed as it has?

A: They have a culture that is very tolerant of risk. I believe the mandatory civil service requirement trains them in how to manage risk. They all have to put three years into the Army. They also receive a very strong technology grounding and learn leadership skills.


Q: How would a startup in Israel connect with the Analog Garage?

A: We work a lot with investors there, so that’s a good network to connect through.  And MassChallenge, one of our incubator partners has a very successful program in Israel. As a matter of fact, MassChallenge is now taking applications from eligible Israel startups through March 28th.  Applying now through MassChallenge may lead to great opportunities for some startups.

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