In 1946, in a little hotel, somewhere in Paris, France’s capital, 2 people have met, these two, by chance, happened to stay for two weeks at the same hotel. The two, a man who later will become the first prime-minister of the State of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, who considered to be the father of the modern Israeli State, and Ho Chi Minh, the father of the modern Vietnamese State.
The second, had already declared a sovereign state, but the path he was still facing towards completion of the task was still very difficult. The encounter between the two was often spoken of, and it was claimed that they had a personal chemistry from the start. Later, Ben Gurion recounted that his friend Ho Chi Minh, has even offered him, while waiting for the establishment of the State of Israel, to form an exiled government in Vietnam. There was no need for it, since within 2 years the State of Israel was established and the rest is written in the pages of history. What moved me in the offer of the great Vietnamese leader, is not merely the demonstrated generosity and friendship, but the incredible thinking imagination, the ability to meditate so quickly a brilliant idea, no one could have thought about – to establish a guest Israeli government in Vietnam – so simple, so clever and so practical!
When I look at the Vietnamese people, whom I started to know since arriving here as the Israeli Ambassador 10 months ago, I see exactly that: practical, clever and quick-minded. Always looking ahead. Never dwelling in the past. These characteristics compose the national strength of Vietnam and they are marching Vietnam forward towards the future.
I have to admit that the Israeli people is very similar in these regard. It shares creativity, practicality and quick-mindedness, and it looks ahead. In my opinion, any partnership between Israelis and Vietnamese is natural and every connection between professionals, be it any profession, from Israel and Vietnam, can create magic.
Today’s Vietnam, invests greatly in the development of a successful startup sector. Many young and talented entrepreneurs, try their way in this world – not an easy professional world. They think of creative ideas and try to turn them into a relevant technology which will promote them, will make them an economical success stories, and in addition – will contribute to the development of their country. The first steps are not easy, and the young entrepreneurs need support which will enable them to stand on their feet – to develop a business model, to raise capital and to convince investors, to recruit proper manpower, etc.
The work-model, developed by the talented team of Danang Business Incubator (often known as DNES), acting on behalf of Danang People’s committee, to promote the startup sector in the city is doing wonders. Danang is working on branding itself as the startup hub of Vietnam and is investing many resources to do so.
The State of Israel, known as The Startup Nation, has already been through a long process of developing this sector, which is now a world-renowned success story, and which we are very proud of. Israel is a small country, located in one of the most difficult areas in the world – the middle-east. Its terrain is mostly desert. There is a severe shortage of water and the soil is not appropriate for agriculture. My grandparents’ generation, who arrived to Israel from around the world and wanted to build its life in Israel, had to be very creative in order to succeed and sustain a life there. The finest Jewish scientists from Europe and the US joined together to establish a high-quality academy and each man, woman and child joined the effort – put all their abilities to turn the desert into a flourishing garden. Amazingly, the effort succeeded. The lesson learned is the great importance of knowledge, science and academy, and the realization that innovation betters our lives and the places we live in. This is the Israeli national state of mind, which we recognize in many places around Vietnam these days, and Danang is one of the best example of it.
Today, Israel has the largest number of startup companies per capita in the world. In Tel Aviv only, a startup company is registered to every 290 citizens. This is an incredible fact. Yet, one must remember that most of the startup companies do not survive and many of them fail in their early stages. The Government of Israel invest great capital in these companies, allowing them to survive long enough to try and realize their ideas. It is a risk taken by the state, using for that purpose the tax-payers’ money. However, the companies who manage to succeed, pay back the investment and allow continuity.
Therefore, our modest contribution, as the Israeli Embassy, to promoting the Incubator in Danang, is, as I mentioned, natural. This is the third consecutive year, we are holding a week of activities in cooperation with the Incubator, where we try to assist local talents to succeed and to march the startup sector forward. During my talks with the Israeli experts we are bringing in, they were very impressed by the great gift shown among the Vietnamese startupists, but no less by their determination to succeed. One of the lessons, the experienced Israeli startup experts try to teach the local startupists is not to be afraid of failure. One should know that when trying to build a startup company from an idea one has, a first-time failure is almost inevitable. However, from this failure, one could learn quite few things, and mainly what to avoid on the next attempt. When failing a second time, one’s experience only increases and on the third attempt, they will not stumble where they twice before did. Most success stories in the startup sector, are those of entrepreneurs who tried and failed many times.
As in the symbol of SURF Week, the jumping fish know both how to swim as well as how to fly, then they are able to surf above they high waves. The fish must learn how to swim better and fly higher. You must always remember that the high waves keep coming, and the more you are prepared for them, the greater the chance to surf them. It is a process of perpetual study and improvement, and the falls along the way only make us stronger.
Israel and Vietnam mark, this year, 25 years since establishing formal relations. The mutual sympathy between the two nations is great. We have a lot to contribute to each other. This year, we decided to celebrate the festive occasion together with our friends in Danang, on their most important week – SURF Week. A celebration of innovation represents more than anything the relations between Israel and Vietnam, especially between Israelis and Vietnamese. In this framework, we are bringing again two top Israeli experts to work with the talented startupists in Danang Business Incubator, as well as presenting a nice exhibition showing to the people of Danang and the participants coming from all around Vietnam, few of the latest Israeli inventions, which contribute greatly to all of Humanity in various fields – Health, Agriculture, Transportation and more – inventions which for us, the Israelis, is a great source of pride. I believe that the ties between the Israeli and the Vietnamese startup communities will continue to grow tighter and stronger and will achieve many more great contributions to all Humankind!
H. E. Nadav Eshcar – Ambassador of Israel to Vietnam