As a productive meeting with TEC Edmonton’s CEO Chris Lumb, Vice President of Technology Management Jayant Kumar and Director of Strategic Partnerships Chris Diaper drew to a close, Israel’s ambassador to Canada made a cheerful observation.
“My title should not be ‘ambassador,’” chuckled Rafael Barak. “I would be better described as match-maker.”
Israel is considered to be a world hub of advanced technology. Ambassador Barak’s visit to TEC Edmonton on March 9, 2016, following up on Jayant’s visit to Israel with 15 other Canadian university technology transfer specialists, was an illustration by example of why Israel has become such an important player in IT, space, cyber-security and numerous other international business sectors.
In Alberta on a tour with other ambassadors to Canada, Barak, on his own initiative, made a side-trip to TEC Edmonton.
“Following Mr. Kumar’s visit to Israel last December,” he said, “it’s my pleasure to return the favour and meet, first-hand, the people that make TEC Edmonton such a dynamic business accelerator.”
Barak was not at TEC Edmonton to smile for the cameras. As the Israeli ambassador, he was establishing a beach-head, the beginnings of business/research relationships and partnerships between TEC Edmonton, the province of Alberta and Israel.
The dialogue between the ambassador and CEO Lumb was focused on putting the foundation in place – initially through government to government, and agency to agency discussions – for Israeli business incubators, research scientists, and entrepreneurs to meet and interact with TEC Edmonton’s network of innovative Alberta companies.
The Israeli model of incubating start-up companies and commercializing university research is a world leader. “Israel has nearly 60 years of experience in university-based tech transfer,” says ambassador Barak. “Every year these companies generate a total of over $1.5 billion in royalties with about 150 new technologies being licensed each year.”
As TEC Edmonton is also working on the international stage – assisting innovative Alberta companies develop business opportunities internationally – the Israelis are world-acknowledged experts at growing international relations for their entrepreneurs.
“We are a small country with a small population, living in a charged political atmosphere,” said Barak. “We’ve been assisting our entrepreneurs for 45 years. We take the risk, but in the end the successful companies generate revenue, taxes and give Israelis the opportunity to work and have careers in Israel.”
All journeys begin with first steps. That the Israeli ambassador carved time out of his Alberta visit to dialogue with TEC Edmonton’s leadership, to start the process of introducing Alberta companies through TEC Edmonton to opportunities with Israel and Israeli companies, speaks volumes about Israel’s understanding of growing its global business and research relationships at every level, to both the benefit of its own and its partners’ successful economic growth.
“I am confident,” said ambassador Barak, “that the bridges we are building between Alberta, especially TEC Edmonton, and the State of Israel will foster mutual opportunities for job creation and economic growth.”