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Friday, December 15, 2017

Innovation Master Class from the Start-up Nation

December 11-15, 2017. Tel-Aviv – CEIBS MBA students had the opportunity to see first-hand why Israel is known as the Start-up Nation on a five-day overseas elective in Tel-Aviv that included visits to five pioneering enterprises, lectures at the country’s second largest university, and panel discussions with influential political leaders and former soldiers-turned-tech-entrepreneurs from the Israeli Army’s renowned 8200 unit.

The 89 MBA 2018 and 2019 students were treated to an innovation feast from day one, as a series of company visits to Volcani Institute Agritech (Agriculture), The Floor (Fintech), Udobu Sportstech (Sports Management), Happify (gaming) and Taglit-Birthright Israel’s “State of Mind”Innovation Center (Tourism) underscored the broad nature of disruption in Israel. One highlight was the visit to Taglit-Birthright Israel’s “State of Mind” Innovation Center where MBAs got to play around with Mobileye – a vision-based advanced driver assistance system for autonomous driving.  The experience was especially rich given that the MBAs had recently been discussing the cutting edge technology in the classroom in Shanghai as part of CEIBS Associate Professor of Strategy Dr. Zhang Yu’s core module in Strategy. 

Another highlight was listening to former Israel Minister of Justice, MP, Deputy Foreign Minister, and Co-Founder of the Oslo Accords Dr. Yossi Beilin, former President of the Al-Quds University Dr. Sarri Nusseibeh, and former Mossad Chief Mr. Efraim Halevy share their insights on Israel, China and everything in between.

Among the lectures at Bar-Ilan University, the one that most resonated with the CEIBS MBAs was given by Professor of Economics Elise S. Brezis on “The Israeli Economy: The Start-up Nation”. It included a lively discussion comparing China, Israel and the US in terms of GDP consumption, government spending, investment and exports.

The most unexpected takeaway of the overseas elective was the panel discussion with former soldiers from the Israeli Army’s 8200 unit.  With many of the young former soldiers going on to carve out illustrious careers in Silicon Valley and global tech start-ups, it was fascinating to hear their personal stories, the rigorous selection process of Unit 8200, and their appetite for business in China.

When the elective concluded, the MBAs were eager to carry the innovative spirit of the Start-up Nation with them as they departed Tel-Aviv. Some went on to visit Jerusalem, others visited neighboring countries or headed home for the winter break before their return to Shanghai for term three which begins in January.


Iris Xue MBA 2019
Janine M. Coughlin
Photo Editor: 
Iris Xue and Ethan Sun MBA 2019