Innovation activity in Israel is concentrated predominantly in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and does not exhaust the resources of innovation in the periphery. The PoliRural team in the north is leading a strategy to promote implementing a most advance digitalisation system in the Galilee. It will create an innovation-driven economy in the periphery, which will benefit both the regional economy and the entire national innovation system.
The focus on digitalisation was the output of several meetings of the PoliRural team, where SWOT analysis and reviewing the difficulties in the economic development of the Galilee region performed. This initiative seeks to examine the possibility that this implementation idea will bring back young people and their families to the periphery – not only about establish startup companies but also regarding the upgrading of the regional innovation system. The infrastructure needed proposes a practical agenda with a dual goal: optimal use of the innovation resources that will be reallocated to the Galilee generating innovative local SMEs, and innovation-inclined economic growth throughout the region in industries, precision agriculture, tourism, health system, education and more. We believe in a plan of action that will benefit both the Israeli innovation system and areas in the geographical periphery. However, this requires implementable solutions that consider the market forces acting on national innovation systems, which adapted for the Galilee peripheral region.
When examining the geographical distribution of the various economic sectors in Israel, we must distinguish between results that are the consequence of economic forces at work in Israel and wishful thinking. The premise we must accept is that high-tech companies tend to concentrate in certain geographical areas, frequently in urban metropolises. It assumes that the companies inspire each other with technological knowledge, exchange skilled human capital, and attract investors. The trend has grown over the past decade, for reasons that include increasing technical complexity necessitating greater collaboration, and because of the increasing attraction of workers to vibrant urban areas.
The other side of the coin is that the area in which they concentrated became a place where most young families are not enjoying, and they would prefer the rural area, green and quite. Since the COVID-19 crises emphasised more than ever the ability to work from a distance, those young people could benefit from the Galilee developed infrastructure, which will accelerate growth and high-quality employment. As the Galilee region will develop, it will become a powerful magnet, attracting most of the “talent”, investors and entrepreneurs. It will also invite researchers (to MIGAL and other incubators and accelerators in the region) who will support this SMES and accelerate the regional development, serving as economic growth engines. The main discussions at the Galilee team are how to recruit the funds to begin the process, and it is clear that we have to implement the PPP scheme – involving private investors as well as the Israeli government.