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Israel innovation chief says work-from-home could pose threat to tech ecosystem

14 10 17
25.11.2020

The recent shift toward working from home could threaten the viability of Israel’s tech ecosystem, warned the head of the agency in charge of fostering that ecosystem.

“It could make entrepreneurs employ workers abroad, ” Aharon Aharon, the CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority, said in an interview.

Once employers get used to working with workers remotely, there are no limits on where they could be, he said. On the flip side, Israeli workers may prefer working in Israel for an international company with higher salaries and better conditions than those offered by a fledgling local startup.

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This could further exacerbate the shortage of skilled workers that is hampering the growth of Israel’s tech economy, he said.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has made employee location less relevant as social distancing has inclined people to work from home, is starting a trend in Israel that is seeing startups increasing their reliance on outsourcing, tapping into a flexible, global pool of talent, a survey published last week showed. An illustrative image of a mother working from home (LightFieldStudios; iStock by Getty Images)

Aharon, 66, who took the helm of the body in charge of setting Israel’s tech policies in 2017, is set to leave his post at the end of the year. In a wide-ranging interview with The Times of Israel held earlier this month, he discusses the potential of Israel’s newly forged ties with the United Arab Emirates (he sees great potential) and plans for a program to increase funding for early stage startups that have been suffering from a lack of investment — even more now, thanks to the pandemic.

He also describes how the tech ecosystem in Israel is maturing, and what tech fields will continue to boom — artificial intelligence and the convergence of biology with other sciences for medical purposes, in which Israel has an edge over global competitors.

Even so, he warns, Israeli tech firms must not rest; they should always be in “panic mode” because of the fast shifting technological map globally.

Aharon declined to reveal where he is going from here, although his plans are already made and he will be doing something he hasn’t done before, he said.

He holds two degrees from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, in computer and electrical engineering. He began his career at IBM, and then moved on to work in a number of private sector posts, including at Zoran Corporation and Seabridge. Aharon was also involved in setting up two startups that were later sold in exit deals. He was instrumental in the establishment of Israel’s Apple activities.

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© The Times of Israel


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