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TEL AVIV, Israel – Israel truly is the “Start-up Nation”, and with numerous partners and alumni, Kellogg is there in a big way. Recently, the school enhanced it engagement with Israel’s world-leading technology ecosystem through a visit from the Kellogg Innovation Network (KIN).

One of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University’s best kept secrets, the KIN is an invitation-only community of leading innovative thinkers, business leaders and a diverse alumni base from around the world. While its annual KIN Global summit and KIN Catalyst forums continue to accelerate innovation dialogue and action, the KIN also recognized the value of taking the network, also known as KINians, to visit leading ecosystems of innovation and entrepreneurship. Much like Kellogg students do through programs like the Global Initiatives in Management, KIN Expeditions bring lifelong professional development and business impact to the world. Hence, the KIN Expedition series was born.

Photo Credit: Paul Epner/SoSa. The KIN Expedition delegation on the rooftop of Tel Aviv incubator SoSa; March 24, 2014.
Photo Credit: Paul Epner/SoSa. The KIN Expedition delegation on the rooftop of Tel Aviv incubator SoSa; March 24, 2014.

KIN Expeditions were piloted with a visit to Panama in February 2012, followed by the recent expedition to Israel, March 23-27, 2014. Joining the delegation were Polly Flinn, SVP at Walmart; Phil Kotler, esteemed professor of International Marketing at Kellogg; Gordon Segal; Founder of Crate & Barrel; Kunitake Ando, Honorary Chairman and former President, Sony Corp.; Ben Slivka, technology investor, philanthropist and Northwestern Trustee; along with 30 other business leaders and innovators.

By Rubinstein Felix (Rastaman3000) (Rastaman3000 (talk)) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Rubinstein Felix (Rastaman3000) (Rastaman3000 (talk)) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Defined by a world-class capacity for innovation and focus on R&D, Israel was a natural choice as a destination from which we can learn how to better innovate in our organizations and communities. Delegates were eager to decipher the recipe the “secret sauce” behind the Israeli innovation ecosystem.

Our speakers in Tel Aviv included:

  •  Jon Medved (CEO, OurCrowd)
  • Moshe Zviran (Vice Dean, Recanati Business School of Tel Aviv University)
  • Avi Hasson (Chief Scientist, Israel Ministry of Economy)
  • Professor David Zvilichovsky
  • Dani Harari (SVP, Makhteshim Agan Group
  • Efi Cohen-Arazi (CEO, Rainbow Medical)
  • Amir Naiberg (Head of Technology Transfer, Weizmann Institute)

They laid the framework and historical context for how the Israeli innovation ecosystem grew and thrived as a “Start-Up Nation.” Notably, all of these speakers have experience in the government, academia, and the military – with military service being a key factor in building a risk-tolerant, management-capable, technologically adept workforce.

Israel’s youth as a nation and “hostile” regional environment create a sense of urgency to innovate through a range of challenges from security to water. Israel excels in resourcefulness and maximizing talent by fostering relationships between universities, government, and businesses, and enabling individuals to emigrate to fill its most critical talent gaps.

The delegation also explored the start-up scene first hand—first, at Tel Aviv incubator SoSa, the group mingled with technology startups and members of VC firm Pitango, which touted success stories of exits as well as multinational corporate investments in Israeli R&D centers. Secondly, leading startups from Microsoft Ventures also pitched to the group. Finally, the delegation visited Jerusalem Venture Partners, a leading investor of media and cyber-security ventures, meeting entrepreneurs from its top portfolio and actively exploring investment opportunities.

The delegation studied the launch plans for CyberSpark, a cyber-security cluster with academia, military and corporate participants developing in the southern city of Be’er Sheva. In-depth discussions and visits were also held on topics from leading collaborative R&D initiatives from Israel to scaling indigenous companies, with leaders from J&J, Qualcomm, SodaStream, Better Place, General Motors, and others.

By Jfragments (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jfragments (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
No visit to Israel would be complete without experiencing sites of historical and religious significance. The delegation began with a view from the sky by flying from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem via helicopter, followed by lunch with a visit from Saul Singer, author of Start Up Nation. The group concluded with a generous dinner at KINian Yitz Applbaum’s home in Jerusalem overlooking the Old City. During the dinner, Major General Elazar Stern, Knesset member and a Kellogg-Recanati alumnus, shared his perspective as an Israeli seeking to bring people together to achieve long-term peace and prosperity.

Our KIN Expeditioners returned home with new insights relationships and experiences to accelerate their own contributions in the world. As one Expeditioner commented, “I’ve learned more about how Israel works in three days with the KIN than in all of my other visits combined.”

The KIN Israel Expedition was led by Professor Robert C. Wolcott, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the KIN and Michael J. Lippitz, in collaboration with KINians , Yitz Applbaum, Peter Bryant, Paul Epner, Kelly Quann Bianucci and Ari Garber. Israel & Co. and Dana Klein and Zeev Klein of Landmark Ventures also contributed significantly to the program’s success. For more information about the KIN, including the annual summit KIN Global, visit