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Government As a Partner for Innovation? Don't Get Scared - High Tech on the Low Episode 83
The world often innovates faster than larger institutions, namely government. Hagai Dror, Managing Director at Healthcare Israel, has flipped that paradigm on its head.
In today's rapidly advancing technological landscape, the role of government in driving innovation is a topic of ongoing debate. On one hand, some argue that government bureaucracy stifles progress and creativity. On the other hand, others argue that government funding and support are essential for driving breakthroughs in various industries. Hagai Dror, Managing Director at Healthcare Israel, joined me on the podcast to explore the importance of government's role in driving innovation, especially in the field of "health-tech".
Hagai Dror discussing why government is a key partner for innovation
The Stigma of Government in Tech
One of the main arguments against government involvement in technology is that government bureaucracy is slow and inefficient. Moreover, many dissidents against government involvement cite government officials' lack of technical expertise to make informed decisions about cutting-edge technologies. Hagai acknowledges this perception, saying "there is a lot of truth in this, that the government is slow, is bureaucratic, is not very agile, and that the government officials may not be the most technically proficient people." However, he also notes that "the government has a lot of money, and the government has a lot of power, and the government has a lot of influence." He goes on to argue that if government officials are educated and informed about the potential of new technologies, they can use this power and influence to drive innovation. Also, with their better education comes the ability for them to better reach startups and help them in their goals of growth and expansion through government supported channels.
Government's Role in Innovation
Hagai believes that government can play a crucial role in driving innovation by funding research and providing growth opportunities for startups. He notes that "government has a lot of money, and can invest in basic research, and can invest in infrastructure, and can invest in creating new companies." However, he makes sure to add that the critical thing for the government to understand is that the startups they work with are businesses, and must make money. They are not public good projects, and as such, the government's role in helping these companies succeed has to come from both a commercial success base and diplomatic foundation to help these companies expand into new markets.
Hagai cites the example of the Human Genome Project, which was largely funded by the government and paved the way for many breakthroughs in genomics and personalized medicine. This project shows that with increased government involvement, the potential of the private sector can be multiplied. Hagai also notes that government can play a key role in regulating and standardizing new technologies, which can help to promote widespread adoption and prevent market fragmentation. He states "if you want to create an ecosystem where you have many companies, where you have many players, where you have many innovations, you need to have some standardization, and you need to have some regulation," and the government is a key stakeholder in that process.
Health-Tech for Global Cooperations
As part of his work in Healthcare Israel, Hagai has promoted the potential for government-led collaboration in the realm of health-tech, particularly when it comes to tackling global health challenges such as pandemics. He argues that "health is a global public good, and we need global cooperation" and that "technology can be a great enabler for that global cooperation." Hagai believes that government-led initiatives can play a vital role in coordinating the efforts of researchers, healthcare providers, and technology companies to develop new treatments and diagnostic tools. In Israel, through Healthcare Israel, the government has already gone about helping to fund and promote several health-tech companies, with the goal of having their technology not only reach Israeli consumers but global markets as well. He believes Healthcare Israel could be a model for governments around the world who aim to support innovation and push cooperation in this way and adds that "government can be a big facilitator for that global cooperation, and for creating the conditions for global cooperation" that will inevitably help the health of the entire world.
While the government's role in technology may still be developing, in Israel and across the world, Hagai Dror believes that government can play a crucial role in driving innovation. The government's role is essential in creating the conditions for global cooperation, as well as investing in basic research and infrastructure. It's important to note that even if the government may have efficiency issues, the money, power, and influence that comes with governmental support are key to help develop local and international innovation ecosystems.