atans1

Where NS leads to successful high tech start-ups

In Uncategorized on 17/09/2013 at 4:48 am

In S’pore, NS is often seen (esp by those doing it) as a waste of time and a source of cheap labour for public events like National Day, F1 and the Kiddie Games.

In Israel, which is surrounded by hostiles threatening to destroy the nation, NS is seen as impt not only for the defence of nation and the Jewish tradition, but also as a training ground for budding high tech entrepreneurs:

Inside the HQ of the Mamram, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) technical support unit in nearby Ramat Gan, computer training course commander … says new recruits on a six-month intensive programming course study from dawn till night and are taught programming skills, teamwork, project management and – most importantly how to be creative. It’s like a school for start-ups.

“When you do a degree in computer science you study the technical things,” she says. “You study how to write a code, mathematics. We don’t focus on that. We focus on how to work in a team. How to understand what your client needs and make software that fits his demands. How to write good code that you will be able to de-bug and maintain.”

Tal Marian, founder of the TechLoft, a commercial shared workspace just off Rothschild, says the results of the military training are obvious. “Some of the military units work like a civilian organisation,” says Marian. “They encourage entrepreneurship, the feeling that if you come up with a good idea that answers a real need of that unit’s mission, you will get the funding and manpower and the time you need.”

After years of helping to solve the nation’s major security threats, the challenges of gaming and mobile apps pale by comparison, he adds.

And

“Entrepreneurs in Israel are unique,” he says. “Their approach to problems is different to others because the army is a huge incubator for innovation and entrepreneurship. The army gave us a few million dollars at the age of 18 and asked us to build technology and systems that address problems that only people 10 or 20 years older are dealing with in other parts of the world. That kind of pressure and challenge really brings a lot of things out of you.”

Tal skipped university to work at a start-up before launching his own, but another important driver of the tech scene is the fact that Israeli university students pay only about $3,100 (£2,000) a year in tuition fees. They emerge from military service and three years of studying with zero debt, eager to take a year off to pursue their dreams.

That youthful exuberance, combined with the rigorous military training in technology and project management, has found a natural home among cafes running down the centre of Rothschild.

When one Tony Tan was DPM a few yrs back, he visited Israel to learn the secrets of building a high tech entrepreneurial culture. Obviously he wasn’t brought to Rothschild Boulevard, or the IDF unit. Obviously, they must have been state secrets then. We know he visited Israeli research institutes and signed shume MOUs.

Related

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16787509

The IDF has already changed enormously in recent years. Its largest unit, 8200, is focused on cyber-warfare. http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21583317-israels-armed-forces-are-shifting-emphasis-mechanised-warfare-toward-air-and

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