by Axis Innovation | March, 2019
Technology relationships are developing very rapidly between India and Israel in
many directions - agriculture, environment, military, and business among others.
Centers of activity are cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Vizag, and Bengaluru on the
India side and Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and Rehovot on the Israel side. The action
doesn’t stop with existing technologies, but rather innovative solutions to challenges
on both sides are a major focus of the relationships. Tel Aviv-Vizag has become a key
axis in the high-energy dynamic of innovation between the two countries.
That India and Israel should develop such a special relationship is a reflection of the
nature of the two countries which can even be compared to a marriage. On the one
hand the two sides share many common elements, with very long and deep religious
and cultural heritages that re-flourished with independence from the British for both
countries seven decades ago. On the other hand India’s huge size of 1.4 billion
people contrasts to Israel’s total population of less than 9 million - half the number
of Delhi or of Mumbai alone. The worldview connections and reality contrasts make
for a hot bubbling Sambar or Cholent when entrepreneurs of the two countries get
Two recent events, both on the Tel Aviv-Vizag axis, illustrate the high level of innovation that is taking place between the countries. The Vizag Million Dollar Challenge was held in October 2018 and focused on AgriTech, EmergeTech, and FinTech. With Vizag and Tel Aviv as lead cities the event also recruited participants from Paris, London, Hong Kong, and Bengaluru to participate within the context of
the Vizag FinTech Festival. The Tel Aviv-Vizag axis proved itself very strong with the high level of interest and encouragement provided by the government of Andhra Pradesh itself. Winners included an Israeli company that presented its technological capabilities at Vizag and will continue to develop its technology and apply it to Indian needs. The Tel Aviv-Vizag partnership was so successful that the Andhra Pradesh Innovation Society (APIS) followed up three months later with another event, the SOCH (Sunrise Open Challenge Hackathon, and a particularly appropriate name as “Soch” means “Think” in Hindi and so resonated strongly with participants) India-Israel 2-Nation
Challenge. The SOCH event was solely focused on the connection between the two countries and involved only entrepreneurs from India and Israel. The event was held in Tel Aviv and Vizag with live video connection during the event, and companies presented innovative technologies that address key problems defined by the Indian government: Water Infrastructure, Water Purification, Cyber Security, and
Agriculture Supply Chain. Start-ups in both countries presented existing solutions, proof-of-concept stage inventions, and conceptual designs for each of these problem statements, with the result being the Grand-Prize winners initiating pilots of their technologies in India and additional winners presenting their solutions to government and business representatives in the respective fields of the Challenge.
The India-Israel combination again proved itself full of opportunity for both sides, both in terms of the specific participants in these events and in terms of the benefits that can be provided to various segments of Indian society.
Are Challenges/Hackathons an effective way to create innovation and bring it to the benefit of companies and societies? In the case of
them. With succinct presentations, plenty of networking opportunities, and a highly focused timeframe a highly diverse group of players were able to come together and flow among them in a very efficient way. The topic areas were selected to lead to the highest level of interest and ensure that the innovations revolved around clearly-
defined problem statements.
The Indian practice of Ayurveda describes five elements that combine into three dosha-energies. When these energies are in balance there is health and growth, and when they are out of balance there is illness until the energies are returned to balance. In the same way the India-Israel relationship has a combination of energies that are often in balance and so the relationship is healthy. There are things that bring the energies out of balance which affects the players in the relationship, not necessarily in a healthy way. It was easy for the various participants to get out-of-balance based on differing expectations and different understandings of the process and the activities. We found it best to plan, prepare, and perform the activities related to these events in relatively short steps with clearly-defined execution points and deadlines. This helped to maintain the health of the relationship, but even so energies did get out of balance at certain points and, as is needed in Ayurveda, the right remedies were required to re-attain proper energy balance. Another “balancer” was having clear
communications lines with one person holding overall responsibility on both the Indian and Israeli sides. As we all know - too many cooks spoil the Sambar or the Cholent as the case may be.