Learning from successful communities is a hallmark of this region’s economic development efforts. And sometimes leading innovators are found in unexpected places.
Case in point: a recent trip to Israel was designed to develop long-term relationships and research partnerships between companies and universities in South Carolina and Israel. The mission was sponsored by the SC-Israel Collaboration, which has identified six clusters of potential economic strength shared by both SC and Israel.
Surprised? Despite its reputation as a cultural, tourism and religious center, Israel is quickly developing a strong brand for business as well.
According to a BBC report, the small country of just 8 million citizens boasts almost 4,000 active technology start-ups – more than any other country outside the United States, according to Israel Venture Capital Research Centre.
More than 45% of the country’s exports today are high-tech in nature. Israel is a world leader in terms of research and development spending as a percentage of the economy.
So what’s the lesson for Charleston’s three-county region? As John Warner, editor of SwampFox and tour participant noted on a recent SC Business Review segment (check out the podcast ), Israel grew its high-tech culture from its core competencies. In their case, using technology to grow a desert-based agricultural economy was inspired.
Warner recommended that we think the same way; what are we uniquely qualified to do here, that will one day translate into technology and products others desire? That’s precisely the objective of the CRDA’s target industry strategy and our efforts to market Charleston as a global destination for business and talent.
We look forward to continuing to build relationships with Israeli companies and perhaps in the near future we can welcome Israel’s top business and academic leaders to Charleston and showcase what our region has to offer.