“Unicorns” are mythical creatures, yet are also known to describe technology-driven startups that reached a valuation of over $1 billion dollars. Israel, a county with only 9 million people and the size of Shikoku Island in Japan, is a “factory” of Unicorns. According to a report by Catalyst Investments, it has taken on average 6 years for Israeli firms set up after 2008 to reach a billion-dollar valuation, as opposed to 15 years for Israeli unicorns set up between 1999 to 2008. The number of Israeli unicorns has jumped in the past few years, from just one in 2013 to 18 in 2019, and to 65 in May 2021, out of 600 globally.
There are few reasons for the increased investments conducted by US investors: The Israeli venture capital funds and government supported technology-transfer accelerators are maturing and have gained experience in convincing US corporations to invest larger amounts in the country. Moreover, the Israeli tech eco-system has developed a large number of companies valued between $300 million and $3 billion, which are good targets for mid-cap and large-cap investors interested in large investments or full buyouts. Therefore, following the American investor’s rush, investors from other counties are becoming more active in Israel, in addition, Israel’s ability to cope with the various crises, including the Covid-19, attracted much of the world’s attention to its unique open-innovation and related technological innovations.
The global Covid-19 pandemic surely shifted the world’s attention to the tremendous expected revolution in our healthcare system. It actually raised the awareness of diverse challenges that could be solved with contemporary medical technologies. Remote monitoring and IoT solutions allow logging, monitoring and diagnosis of vital signs allowing physicians to overcome distance and travel difficulties. The ability to collect and analyze big data and then to draw treatment conclusions based on AI algorithms aim to provide decision support abilities for quicker and more accurate therapeutic measures. Other fast developing segments are automotive surgical navigation systems, minimally invasive tools and robotic surgery that increase precision, reduce human errors and preserve healthy human tissues. While at the top of the pyramid stands the 3D printing ability of human organs, which aims to revolutionize the medical world, as we know today.
Timing couldn’t be better to introduce Israeli medical and digital health technological companies to Japan, a country that struggles with a growing super aging society, the necessity to reduce the medical team’s overload, the ability to provide medical services in remote and rural locations, the need in preventing chronic disease, among other 21th medical challenges. With the upcoming celebrations of their 70s anniversary of bilateral relationships, in 2022, Japan and Israel seem to have synergetic needs for collaboration and can develop fruitful grounds to enjoy various strategic benefits. Where on the one hand, Israeli med-tech firms bring proven success stories, the ability to quickly understand local needs and the flexibility to make adjustments. While Japanese firms enjoy the ability to choose from a wide range of solutions, which shorten time to market of various products, saves costly local R&D expenses and provides various investment and M&A deals. For Israeli companies, Japan is one of the best markets to scale up their business globally.
The 21st century created unique technological challenges in various fields, but at the same time drove startups to challenge old conceptions. At the heat of this quest to solve global challenges stands the Israeli open innovation eco-system, which recently became a “factory” for unicorns – startups that reached evaluation of over $1B. A decade ago, investors could have doubled or tripled their investment via equity trading of listed companies, however, nowadays if a global firm has not developed a local information base, or strategic ties with local accelerators or VCs the change they can hold of an early stage tech-company pre-IPO becomes is very low. We would like to provide useful information that can help Japanese companies identify and tie up with the soon to be unicorns.
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