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Start-Up Notions: The Real Roots of Israel’s Entrepreneurship Miracle

Posted on Feb 22, 2011 in Print, The Economist

February 2, 2011 The 1990s were a revolutionary time in the Israeli economy. The government created Yozma, the innovative venture capital vehicle structured by the Israeli government, saw an inrush of venture capital, a wave of NASDAQ IPOs, and benefited from a surge in corporate technology acquisitions. Recent accounts[1] represent the period as a case study for governments looking to foster entrepreneurship. But that story is so incomplete as to mislead policy makers. In fact, developments in the 1990s were only the fruits of a process that been building for the previous four decades.   The real timeline: 1950s. The seeds of Israel’s entrepreneurial revolution were sown in the late 1940s and 1950s. Israel’s first (Weizmann) and fourth (Katzir) presidents were scientists. Both believed strongly in the role of science in national defense and societal prosperity; in and of...

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Cluster Bluster

Posted on Nov 16, 2010 in Print, The Economist

Posted: 16 November 2010 – 4:53 pm   Zebras are beautiful. They are powerful. They exist in nature. But if someone told you that you could paint a white jackass with black stripes and call it a zebra, you would send them packing. The necessary and sufficient conditions for breeding zebras are two mature adults of opposite gender, springtime, and some privacy. Economic clusters are effective. They are powerful. They exist in nature. So why do most economic policy makers think they can take some real estate, paint it with an anchor tenant and a name, and call it a cluster? The necessary, and often sufficient, condition for clusters is successful entrepreneurship. Like the 1980’s wag about an executive never being fired for buying IBM, the 2000’s version is that a policy maker cannot be fired for promoting a...

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Entrepreneurship is the New Gold Rush: Mining a Renewable Resource

Posted on Oct 8, 2010 in Print, The Economist

December 8, 2010 While the price of the glittering metal clanks noisily through the $1400 ceiling in London and New York, a rush to corner the market on a natural resource of a different sort is starting in Santiago, Chile, and Barcelona, Spain; not for precious metal but for precious mettle. Entrepreneurship. Emprendimiento Entrepreneurship is the scarce and valuable resource of today’s societies, driving economic growth and social development. Rather than being the result of “national competiveness,” “clusters,” the “knowledge economy,” and “innovation systems,” – policy makers’ present palavers—entrepreneurship is their root cause. Policy makers must  understand entrepreneurship causes economic development, creates the foundations for sustainable clusters, and creates national and regional competitiveness and innovation; not the other way around. With that in mind, ambitious new organizations such as Start-up Chile and BarcelonaActiva are mining the world’s “entrepreneurial supply...

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The Myth of the Knowledge Economy

Posted on Sep 27, 2010 in Print, The Economist

Daniel Isenberg, Professor of Management Practice and Founding Executive Director, Babson College Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project September, 2010 I want to be the first to advocate the ignorance-based economy. Exhortations by public officials everywhere to build knowledge-based economies have skyrocketed in popularity since the OECD first published its manifesto in 1996, accruing a whopping 40,000 articles on Google scholar alone.  Unfortunately, like many sound bites, this one has more flavor than nutrition. As I help societies around the world to increase their levels of entrepreneurship, I’ve found the “knowledge-based economy” mantra, ubiquitous as it is among public leaders everywhere, has become empty for three reasons. All economic activity is knowledge-based. What is not knowledge-based? The term’s original intention was to describe an alternative to economic activity based on resource extraction, commodity sales and rent-seeking. However, these activities also require and...

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Global heroes

Posted on May 12, 2009 in Interviews and Media Quotes, Print, Quote, The Economist

Originally published in the Economist, May 12, 2009 IN DECEMBER last year, three weeks after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai and in the midst of the worst global recession since the 1930s, 1,700 bright-eyed Indians gathered in a hotel in Bangalore for a conference on entrepreneurship. They mobbed business heroes such as Azim Premji, who transformed Wipro from a vegetable-oil company into a software giant, and Nandan Nilekani, one of the founders of Infosys, another software giant. They also engaged in a frenzy of networking. The conference was so popular that the organisers had to erect a huge tent to take the overflow. The aspiring entrepreneurs did not just want to strike it rich; they wanted to play their part in forging a new India. Speaker after speaker praised entrepreneurship as a powerful force for doing good as well...

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