from the May 2012 issue

A Country Without Minerals

No country has been as bereft of minerals as Israel. The only natural resource was the potash to be extracted from the Dead Sea. However, a whole industrial infrastructure had to be established. The only natural resource was oranges.

It is somewhat difficult to analyze the emergence of Israel's high-tech industry. Israelis as such do no possess any specific qualities or talents. However, a closer view indicates that its achievements were connected with specific needs. Typically was the invention of drip irrigation. Recently, Netafim, a drip irrigation company was sold for $750m. The shortage of water has led to the development of desalination. Recently Israelis commissioned the world's largest desalination plant. It has become an international success and an export industry has been formed around it.

However, the country's defense industry is most typical of building in response to a need. The country has been attacked six times and the for defense material has been great. The first item to succeed on the world markets has been the Uzi, submachine gun.One of the greatest successes has been the UAV. The UAV is an acronym for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, which is an aircraft with no pilot on board. UAVs can be remote controlled aircraft flown by a pilot at a ground control station) or can fly autonomously based on pre-programmed flight plans or more complex dynamic automation systems. UAVs are currently used for a number of missions, including reconnaissance and attack roles. For the purposes of this article, and to distinguish UAVs from missiles, a UAV is defined as being capable of controlled, sustained level flight and powered by a jet or reciprocating engine. Israel Aircraft Industries and Elbit are the foremost manufacturers of UAVs. Hundreds of the se units have been exported. Russia is among the customers for Israeli UAVs.

Israel Aircraft Industries designed and built the Lavi, the first fighter jet aircraft. However, Israel conceded to America's demand that the plane not be built.

The Dead Sea minerals have become the basis of a healthcare industry. The Dead Sea salts are sold worldwide.

However, the situation changed in the wake of the Six Day War when President Charles De Gaulle, in a fit of anger when Israel won the Six Day War embargoed all French material to Israel. Parts for the French built Mirages were no longer supplied.

Thought was given as how to overcome the problems created by the embargo. It was Dan Tolkowsky, the onetime Chief of Israel's Air Force who suggested that Israel build its own high-tech industries to fill the void. Tolkowsky, as head of the Israel Discount Bank Investment Company, was in a position to implement his ideas. In 1980 he helped to float the shares of Scitex Corp. The money thus raised allowed Scitex to become a world leader in digital printing. The ability to adjust images in terms of shapes and colors helped Scitex to become a leader in the field.

At the same time A Haifa based company became a leader in computer-aided tomography. The ability to image tissues allowed the CAT scanner to become a major analytical too

Rafael designs, develops, manufactures and supplies a wide range of high-tech defense systems for air, land, sea and space applications.

Rafael was established as part of the Ministry of Defense more than 60 years ago and was incorporated in 2002. Currently, 9% of its sales are invested in R&D. Rafael know-how is embedded in almost all Israel Defense Forces (IDF) systems in operation today. The company has a special relationship with the IDF, developing products according to the soldiers' specific requirements in the field. Rafael has also formed partnerships with civilian counterparts to develop commercial applications based on its proprietary technology.

In the early 1980s Professor Isaac Kaplan, an expert in facial reconstruction surgery, persuaded Yaa'cov Meridor to purchase a laser instrument. The surgeon, together with engineer Uzi Sharon devised in 60 days the world's first surgical laser. It became an instant medical hit with 1,500 being sold the first few years. Laser closed its doors due to business reasons. Variations of its laser units are in use to this day.

Another company that became a world leader was Ormat Technologies which is a world leader in the geothermal power plant sector. As a geothermal company has over four decades of experience in the development of state-of-the-art, environmentally sound power solutions, primarily in geothermal and recovered energy generation. In addition to designing, developing, building, owning and operating geothermal energy and recovered energy-based power plants in the United States and other countries, Ormat also designs, manufactures and sells power units and other power generating equipment for geothermal power plants and recovered energy-based electricity generation.

Israel is the world's seventh satellite country. In the 70's and 80's Israel developed the infrastructure needed for research and development in space exploration and sciences. This activity was marked with the development of satellites and launching facilities, and had the proclaimed goal of Israel entering the "club" of states with those abilities. In November 1982 the Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Yuval Ne'eman, announced the formation of an agency, which could coordinate and supervise a national space program.

In 1984 the National Space Knowledge Center was established in cooperation with Israel Aircraft Industries; a contract was signed between IAI and Ministry of Defense for the development of the needed infrastructure and of Israel's first observation satellite. T9his came to fruition in 1988 when Israel launched the first in a series of Ofeq satellites and thus became one of only a few nations in the world possessing an indigenous space launching capability (see timeline of first orbital launches by country). Dr. Moshe Bar-Lev headed the project management at Israel Aircraft Industries for many years.

Perhaps the country's greatetst achievement has been producing 11 Nobel Prize Winners, ranging from literature to chemistry.

The above are just a few achievements by Israel's world of technology. This book is dedicated to introduce you to many achievements.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report May 2012

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