Bill Gates on Israeli Tech Innovation

Reposted from Start Up Israel by David Shamah:

In a rare public comment on the value of MS Israel’s work in helping make the company what it is, Gates said that Israeli developments tech areas like analytics and security were “improving the world.”

This year marked the eighth Think Next event, where MS shows off its best and brightest new technologies, many developed in Israel. Gates doesn’t call in every year, but with this year being the 25th anniversary of the Microsoft Israel research and development center, he told the Tel Aviv audience in a video call from the US that he was “very happy to wish the R&D center a happy birthday.”

The center, he said, “started in 1991, when some of the Israeli engineers at Microsoft wanted to return home but continue working at Microsoft. We decided to open the center – it was our first one outside the US – and I think the technology they have produced over the years more than justifies our decision.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks with Bill Gates during the World Economic FOrum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, January 23, 2014. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash 90.Speaking live at the event was current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Nadella met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier Thursday to discuss cyber-security and other matters. In their meeting, Nadella noted Microsoft’s commitment to Israel, “its investments in the local market and its commitment to the continued growth of the high-tech and innovation industry in Israel which finds expression in assistance programs for start-ups, introducing advanced technologies to all sectors of the economy, promoting science and technology, and education in computers and mathematics,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

According to Yoram Yaakovi, general manager of Microsoft Israel’s R&D Center, “the Think Next Conference reflects the ability of creative technologies to reinvent entire industries, including: health, agriculture, communications and transportation. The new experiences offered to users are a tremendous springboard for businesses and is changing the economy and the lives of millions. We are proud to provide a stage for startups that show exceptional creativity in these and other fields. Since the R&D center was established 25 years ago we have managed to generate unique creative value for the company – as shown by innovative projects that will be presented today at the event.”

Think Next itself was one of those projects exported by Microsoft Israel. First organized in Israel, the tech showcase is now duplicated by the company in India, China and the US. This event is held in the framework of Microsoft’s efforts to promote high-tech in Israel, and especially in the start-up sector, where Microsoft holds various promotion and cooperation activities with some 1,000 startups.

One thing that Microsoft is very proud of, said Zack Weisfeld, who heads Microsoft Ventures, the company’s start-up accelerator, is “that in four years we have built Ventures into the world’s biggest and most successful corporate accelerator. Since we started the program in Israel in 2012, Microsoft has opened six additional Ventures Accelerators around the world.”

“Worldwide we have had 454 graduates, who have raised $1.78 billion,” he said at a gala event Thursday in Tel Aviv, celebrating the seventh graduating class of the local Ventures Accelerator program. “We’ve had 29 exits and 3 IPOs, and on average companies that graduated from the program received $4.9 million in funding in the first year after they graduate from the accelerator. That’s enough to make us the number one corporate accelerator in the world.”

While Microsoft is known for many things, it is best known for Windows – and for years, rumors have swirled for years that major parts of the operating system were developed in Israel, something the company has confirmed although it has never specified just which components of Windows are “Israeli.” Gates, who does know, wasn’t telling either, but he was “very happy” to wish the Microsoft Israel R&D center a happy 25th anniversary.

“I have been very impressed with what they have done in the past 25 years, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the next 25,” he added.

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This blog looks at how modern technology affects Jewish life, particularly the impact of the Internet on Jews across the globe. The Internet has made the Jewish community seem smaller. The Jewish Techs blog, written by blogger Rabbi Jason Miller (The Techie Rabbi), explores the places where Jewish culture, education and faith intersect with technology. Of course, like anything, Jews will continue to ask if technology is good or bad for the Jews – the age old question of our people. Good or bad, it is undisputed that technology has changed Jewish life. If you’re Jewish or interested in technology or both… you’ll enjoy the conversation. Thanks for reading the Jewish Techs blog.

The Techie Rabbi – Rabbi Jason Miller

Rabbi Jason Miller, the Techie RabbiJason Miller is NOT your typical rabbi. Known as the Techie Rabbi, he launched Access Computer Technology in 2010 and has grown it into a full-scale technology firm that provides social media marketing consulting and web design in addition to IT support. Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary a decade ago, Rabbi Jason has made a name for himself as a popular blogger, social media expert, educator and entrepreneur. Based in Detroit, his congregation includes more than a million people who read his blog and follow him in Cyberspace. He began the Jewish Techs blog in January 2010 as the New York Jewish Week's technology expert.

An entrepreneurial rabbi and an alum of Clal's "Rabbi Without Borders" fellowship, Jason Miller is a rabbi and thought leader whose personal blog has been viewed by millions. The Detroit Free Press called him “the most tech-savvy Jewish leader" and the Huffington Post ranked him among the top Jewish Twitter users in the world. A social media expert, Rabbi Jason is a popular speaker and writer on technology and its effect on the Jewish world. He writes the "Jewish Techs" blog for The Jewish Week and the monthly "Jews in the Digital Age" column for the Detroit Jewish News.

Miller won the 2012 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce and is one of the winners of a Jewish Influencer award from the National Jewish Outreach Program.