Our Journey Into “The Impossible”: 67 Years of Innovation
Independence Day is a good opportunity to try to understand how the Israeli mind and entrepreneurial spirit have become an Israeli pride globally. Advanced technologies, promising start-ups – and their connection to food. Dagan Eshel, Strauss Alpha Venture Manager, shares with us the continuous journey into the future.
The connection between food companies and technology
Marketing studies, which asked mothers whether they were interested in reduced fat and sugar candies for their children, surprised researchers who discovered that the common answer was “It’s not really interesting.”
Marketing people who commissioned these studies didn’t understand how such an answer coincided with the fact that health awareness and concern over obesity have become major trends in recent years.
The answer to this paradox lies in the confusion created in the minds of the respondents between “Do I want to” and “Is it possible”. Mothers had a preconception that a healthier product would be less tasty and therefore children wouldn’t want to eat it.
A few years ago, top executives in food companies responded in a similar manner to the question “Should you invest in the development of breakthrough technologies in the food industry?”.
Their answer was “It’s irrelevant to our industry” – they, too, didn’t really believe it was doable!
These managers also thought that there was no need for developing breakthrough technologies in such a traditional and stable field as the food industry, until the earth began to move underneath equally-traditional industries. For example, shares of the publishing giant Barnes & Noble dropped from $ 46 to $ 9 in the years 2006-2011 due to its delayed entry into the e-books market. Taxi drivers in many cities around the world responded with absolute panic to the rise of UBER, GET TAXI and similar venture, and the sad stories of KODAK And BLOCKBUSTER are widely familiar. These huge companies shrank until they just disappeared. All for the same reason – lack of timely detection of the business meaning of new technologies.
So how to approach technology? Or: how do we create an uninhibited connection?
Once it was commonly clear that lack of transformative technology might put businesses at risk, the question remained how to obtain one. Revolutionary technologies or applications typically share one common characteristic: while they are, indeed, created using familiar building blocks (principles of physics and technologies used in applications), when placed with gifted, uninhibited designers, they are linked in a new and unexpected manner, creating structures with exceptional values. This characteristic “new uninhibited connection” generally challenges organizational structures and common characteristics among employees in major companies.
The Israeli chutzpah enables them to talk freely with one another
The country as an organization
Large organizations have the potential needed to breathe life into these structures. The realization of an organization that it needs new technologies or inventions and should pass them through the rocky road leading up to a consumer is called innovation!
A country can be regarded as an organization of a sort. The State of Israel is a very special organization, one that needn't be reminded of the "business" dangers (life is a type of business) posed by its environment. Fortunately and unlike most business organizations, this organization inhabits both "gifted designers" and traditional organization people.
The Israeli chutzpah enables them to talk freely with one another. From generation to generation, innovation has taken on a new face, turning from agricultural and security innovation at the outset, through to innovation in Hi Tech and Bio Tech, and now Clean Tech and Bio Med. Evidence to that effect can be found in every global innovation index in the largest world stock exchanges, with almost every household in the world using Israeli technology.
Strauss and innovation
In 2012 Strauss decided it was time to announce a new Food Tech and establish Alpha Strauss-FoodTech Community, an initiative based on the insights mentioned above. The goal is to call on scientists, inventors and start-ups to collaborate with Strauss on the development of food technology.
The division of roles is clear as stated: You will be the "gifted designers" and we will be the construction company. Today, after 4 years of intense work, Strauss oversees dozens of projects in breakthrough technologies. Some smaller projects have already matured, and other large and very large ones are nearly matured. For obvious reasons we can't unveil them here, but once they mature they will undoubtedly "strike a chord". We can certainly say with pride that we are already starting to see the "impossible".