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She has Tel Aviv. The fifth most unicorn companies in the world. However, relatively little has been written outside of Israel about the major issues facing local entrepreneurs today. We spoke to one of them, Avishai Ben-Tovi, CEO of MDI Health. – Anna
to SVB and back
The exchange recently noted how Sweden punches above its weight in startup dollars raised per capita. But Israel is more technologically adept – hence the nickname “the nation of startups.”
Israel’s tech scene is also remarkably resilient and relatively free of the country’s international and local political problems. But in recent months, Israel’s startup ecosystem has found itself at the forefront of opposition to the government’s highly controversial judicial reform plan.
In a country where the tech sector “accounts for 25 percent of Israel’s income tax and contributes 15 percent to the country’s annual GDP,” opponents say the reform will harm Israel’s democracy and economy.
Driven by these political and economic concerns, the main actors of the Israeli startup scene took a public stance; Index Ventures, for example, “condemn[d] Proposed reforms in Israel that encourage discrimination and threaten democracy.
Others chose not to make public statements or officially join the strike, leaving it up to their employees. But regardless of their position, many are concerned about the economic consequences of this political crisis.
These concerns have turned into action, especially those related to finance. In January, Reuters reported that an Israeli venture capital fund and a local start-up were moving their bank accounts out of Israel, while others were also beginning to keep their money elsewhere.
MDI Health CEO Avishai Ben-Tovim was one of them. According to Crunchbase, the health tech company, which has raised $26 million so far, is an Israeli-American. With political unrest in Israel rising, it made sense that the Silicon Valley bank would make good use of the account… until it didn’t. Ironically, Ben-Tovim found himself in a rush to transfer money to Israel before the collapse of the banking system.