Taking a group of students to Israel to learn entrepreneurship isn’t the easy option. It would surely have been simpler for us to send them somewhere closer to home to discover what it takes to launch a start up venture.
After all, it’s a 6,000 mile journey to Israel with an 11-hour flight and seven time zones of jetlag. And as we experienced, the weather in an Israeli summer can be sweltering at times particularly for Canadian students who might never have traveled south of the 45th parallel before.
At the Lassonde School of Engineering we focus only on one thing: creating the very best opportunities for our students. We don’t take the easy option in anything we do.
When the opportunity arose to send Lassonde students to Technion-Israel Institute of Technology we didn’t think about it for too long. We grasped it with both hands.
In summer 2014, and again in 2015, we send a diverse group of over 20 undergraduate engineering students from Lassonde to undertake an intensive program led by Technion, which this year also included a two-day visit to the StarTAU entrepreneurship centre at Tel Aviv University.
Our students all read a copy of Start Up Nation cover to cover before departing for Israel, but no words or textbooks can truly do justice to the spirit of this compelling, complex and cosmopolitan society.
We wanted our students to see it, breathe it and taste it for themselves.
Our students learned the history of Israel and how it became a technology superpower, one which gives birth to more tech start ups and attracts more venture capital per capita than any other country in the world.
Our students learned from Israeli entrepreneurial success stories – young and old – and from the architects of an economic model that’s an inspiration for ambitious nations everywhere.
Our students learned from young Israelis themselves about the opportunities, along with the tough challenges, of starting a new venture and bringing an idea to market.
Above all, our students learned one thing above all about Israel: life isn’t lived standing still. Entrepreneurs don’t wait until tomorrow. They do it today.
You can read about the experiences of Amal Dave, one of the students who took part in this year’s program, in his own words on this blog.
This is only the beginning of our partnership with Technion and with other universities in Israel. Our intention is to provide opportunities for many more of our Lassonde School of Engineering students to learn and to live in this spectacular country.
Janusz Kozinski is the Dean the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University.