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‘India, Israel have different work styles, but combination is potent for startups’

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Bengaluru: Global consulting and technology company Accenture and Indian IT trade body Nasscom say that greater collaboration between Indian and Israeli startups can lead to an investment of $25 billion in the two country's startup ecosystem and create 25 products with revenue of $1 billion each by 2025.

The two organizations have recommended what they call the IINSPIRE (Israel-India Startup Platform for Innovative Research and Entrepreneurship) framework and identified five areas of opportunity - agriculture, defence, energy, deep tech and heath care & life sciences - after discussions with more than 50 experts from the countries.

"Both countries' innate strengths complement each other. India can help Israeli startups scale, and can serve as a test bed for Israel's tech innovation. Through collaboration, the two countries can co-develop cost-effective products and solutions that score major successes in markets around the globe," said the report that was released during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Israel — the first by an Indian premier to that country.

Nasscom has estimated that India has 4,600 to 5,000 startups and Israel 4,500 to 4,600, the countries with the third and fourth highest numbers of startups. The US and UK have more than what India has. More than one-third of all American startups have an Indian or Israeli founder, greater than all such companies founded by European entrepreneurs.

The report proposes combining the temperament, technology and talent of India and Israel. It said that in spite of being diverse, these can be bridged by educational institutions, large businesses, investors and government. Among other measures, IINSPIRE asks for setting up of deep tech R&D corridors and Indo-Israel exchange programme for students and innovators to overcome cultural differences.

"Indians and Israelis have different working styles with the latter having no patience in terms of decision making. That is slower in India. Indians are also wary of Israelis and think their behaviour borders on arrogance and rudeness which again is not the case," Avnish Sabharwal, managing director of Accenture Ventures India, told TOI.

K S Vishwanathan, vice president of industry initiatives at Nasscom, said, engagement within the product community in India and Israel is one way to get them closer. "Indians are known to innovate frugally while Israel is known for products that have a ready industrial audience globally, especially in the US," he said.

The reason is Indian startups cater to a vast domestic market, with numerous opportunities for disruption, by leveraging its software services, while Israel, with no domestic market, primarily makes B2B products. Collaboration would not only provide Israeli companies an opportunity to access a big Indian market but also help its Indian counterparts to improve product quality and think global.

"We have placed a plan on the table and identified the ambitions and aspirations. If there is an interest we will think whether to set up a special purpose vehicle. Large companies can drive this through their own initiatives," Raghav Narsalay, managing director of Accenture Research, said.

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