There is a plethora of inventions that deserve mention, but here are just a few from the past 75 years that have made major global impact.
Israel is celebrating 75 years of independence this month and has been deservedly defined as the innovation nation. Israel has the largest percentage of scientists and engineers per capita, with 135 per 10,000. There are thousands of startups, patents and companies, almost all developed through a need to feed, defend or help heal people. There is a plethora of inventions that deserve mention, but here are just a few from the past 75 years that have made major global impact.
Israel is a land that is two-thirds desert and, already in the pre-state years, the agricultural pioneers were developing ways to fulfill the vision of the nation’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who said, “The Negev is where the creativity and pioneering vigor of Israel shall be tested.”
When you eat a salad, note that Israel is sharing with the world the delicious cherry tomato. In the barren desert, the drip irrigation system was developed; it is manufactured by the Netafim company and controls 30% of the global market. Yet, the need for transferring water from the lush north to the arid south was evident in Israel’s first decade and, as a result, it created a massive water project known as the National Water Carrier.
With growing water shortages and lack of access becoming a global crisis, Watergen has developed a machine that can create water from air, making it one of the world leaders in atmospheric drinking water devices.
Israel has manufactured one car, the Sussita Carmel in the 1960s, a project that was not considered overly successful or profitable but has realized its potential in the smart mobility sector. Waze and Mobileye are considered two of Israel’s most successful companies. In 1999, Mobileye was launched to develop a technology aimed to warn drivers of potentially dangerous situations. Today, the systems are found in the vehicles of most major automakers. Purchased by Intel in 2017, it is Israel’s largest exit to date.
The navigational app Waze was developed in 2008 and sold to Google in 2013. Today, it boasts over 100 million users.
Israel is a country that has experienced existential threats and military conflict while being surrounded by hostile enemies. Military conscription has been mandatory since independence, but in addition to the motivated conscripts, the IDF has understood that technology superiority is essential.
The Iron Dome missile defense system has saved countless Israeli lives during rocket attacks on civilians, with a 90% success rate of missile interception. The Israel-made tank, the Merkava, first developed in the late 1970s, is considered one of the best battle tanks in the world, with its innovative crew protection system and ergonomics, sophisticated suspension system and advanced electronic firing system.
An IDF medic created the Emergency Bandage, an elasticized bandage creating pressure on the wound that has significantly reduced death from trauma or hemorrhaging on the battlefield.
A former military missile engineer, Dr. Gabbi Idan, developed the PillCam after miniaturizing missile technology. The medical invention is a capsule-covered camera that can be swallowed by a patient to diagnose gastrointestinal illness.
After an accident that left Amit Gofer a quadriplegic, he invented ReWalk, a robotic exoskeleton that allows wheelchair users to walk, climb up and down stairs, and see people eye to eye.
As Israelis are celebrating a most significant year of independence, they seem deeply committed to another 75 years of innovation and creativity.
Naomi Miller is director of Israel Partnerships for the Michigan Israel Business Accelerator. This essay was first published in its newsletter.