The Giant Corporations That Nurtured Israel’s Success as a “Start-Up Nation” May Now Be Undermining It

In the past two decades, the Jewish state has produced numerous small companies specializing in innovative technology, bringing economic growth to the country and exporting new devices and software abroad. The most successful of these companies have been bought by large, multinational corporations, which have also been setting up their own research centers in Israel, hoping to tap into Israeli talent. But, explains Matthew Kalman, such international investment, while it has benefited the country in the short term, may be undermining its now-famous start-up ethos:

There is certainly evidence to suggest that the influx of multinational interest and investment is taking the fizz out of Israel’s start-up ecosystem. The number of start-ups founded each year is falling, while the number that close each year is rising. The total amount of capital raised by Israeli high-tech continues to climb, but the number of deals has fallen by 10 percent since 2015. . . .

[Furthermore], foreign firms don’t benefit the Israeli economy nearly as much as home-grown ones do. A recent trend has been for multinationals to buy Israeli companies and turn them into research-and-development branches. . . . Statistics show that for each employee of an Israeli high-tech manufacturer, two more local jobs are created. For each research-and-development center employee, [however], only one-third of another job is created. When a growing local company turns into a research-based subsidiary of a foreign corporation, then, those potential jobs are lost. So are any intellectual-property revenues and taxes that the independent local business might have generated. . . .

But the corporations won’t stop coming. That’s because they need Israel’s innovation. The converse is true as well, though: people with a start-up mentality need big organizations, says Saul Singer, one of the two authors of [the book] Start-Up Nation. “Start-ups are great at innovation, but it’s very hard for them to scale up,” he says. “Big companies are very good at scaling—but it’s hard for them to innovate.”

The Israel Innovation Authority, a branch of the Ministry of the Economy, is taking steps that could counteract some of these problems, while some Israel businessmen have begun initiatives of their own.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Israeli technology

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey