In order to spur new partnerships and new idea exchanges in global venturing, the International Business Center at the University of Pittsburgh's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business hosted a two-day conference in March 2015 called Global Venturing Israel: MedTech and Inclusive Innovation. Hundreds of leaders in business, government, economic development organizations, and universities attended the event, which featured speakers from leading innovation companies in Israel and Pittsburgh. The conference was held over March 26-27, 2015, led by conference chair and Katz faculty member Paul T. Harper, and was supported by the Katz International Business Center and its partners.
Vision: Global Venturing is a new initiative within the International Business Center at the Katz Graduate School of Business. Under this Initiative, Katz faculty and staff will introduce new courses, produce new research and thought leadership, establish student exchanges, and coordinate special events that highlight the importance of new ventures and innovation as a strong economic driver in our global economy.
Israeli New Ventures & Innovation: In the last twenty years, Israel has distinguished itself as the #2 innovation ecosystem in the world thereby becoming known as the ‘Start-Up Nation.’ The business sectors most affected by Israeli technological innovation include energy, information technology, agriculture, and the life sciences. Through its impact on all of these industries the nation of Israel has improved the well being of people around the world and, as8 a result, has garnered great attention and substantial foreign investment.
Pittsburgh/Tel Aviv Nexus of Innovation: The inaugural event was a conference that focused on the innovation economy of Israel, with special emphasis on the life sciences. Israeli innovations in the life sciences were chosen as the focus of the conference for several reasons. The life sciences, including health information technology, medical devices, and drug innovations, are areas in which Israeli and Southwestern Pennsylvania firms, universities, incubators, and accelerators share similar and complementary strengths. Given these complementary strengths, it is puzzling that there have been only a handful of joint R&D projects, strategic alliances, and commercial acquisitions. The conference Chair, Advisory Committee, organizers, strategic partners, and sponsoring organizations believed that there is a substantial opportunity to establish a new set of bi-national relationships that will lead to new business opportunities, expanded research agendas, more globalized civic cooperation, and economic development. This foundational event served the prospecting of these opportunities by convening the relevant university, business, and civic stakeholders.
Inclusive Innovation: One of opportunities made available by this conference was an engagement with the concept of Inclusive Innovation, which was discussed by a bi-national panel of experts and practitioners. An Arab-Israeli entrepreneur from the city of Nazareth was included in the VIP Investor event, the company showcase, and also the panel on Inclusive Innovation. This added dimension differentiated the conference from others in the U.S. by foregrounding the challenges of inclusion for successful innovation-driven economies.
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