By Diane Hess
Israel’s success as a “startup nation” derives from its entrepreneurial culture and its ability to commercialize academic innovations. Hebrew University was one of the first to embrace the process of transferring technology from academia to industry— it established Yissum, its tech transfer company, back in 1964.
“Yissum is not only valuable for the Hebrew University, but for the Israeli economy,” said Avner Mendelson, CEO of Bank Leumi USA and a board member of American Friends of the Hebrew University. “It is a model for the commercialization of technology worldwide.”
A nation of just over eight million people, Israel lists more Nasdaq companies than any other except the United States, according to a recent report by The Times of Israel. It is number one in the world for venture capital raised on a per capita basis.
Among Yissum’s successes include blockbuster drugs like Doxil to treat cancer and Exelon for Alzheimer’s disease, agricultural innovations such as a breed of cherry tomato with a longer shelf life, and automotive tech giant Mobileye.
Yissum’s business partners span the globe and include Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Intel, Google, Boston Scientific, ICL, and many others.
These relationships help to pump capital back into the Hebrew University.