Decrease of exports is temporary and Israel is still a center of innovation, says General manager of Intel Israel.
Science-oriented industry is one of the pillars of the local economy. In 2011, exports from this industry amounted to more than 45 percent of the total export of goods. These industries are also considered an engine of growth.
Consequently, the future of the industry is of prime importance to the local economy. The decrease in exports and the difficulty in raising funds to finance the industry is raising concern .
But is this a passing phase influenced by a combination of the current global downturn and the business cycle or are there deeper reasons? To find the answers to these questions, The Economic Post interviewed Maxine Fassberg, general manager of Intel Israel and VP of Intel’s Technology & Manufacturing Group.
“Currently, the hi-tech industry is going through a period that cannot be described as easy,” says Fassberg. “The origin of the problem stems from the fact that the science-based industry is export oriented and dependent on overseas finance. In my opinion, it is a temporary problem because the essentials are excellent. Israel is still a center of innovation, and our developers have fascinating ideas.
And that is what counts.
The current problems are imported. Demand in our hi-tech markets has declined because the EU, which accounts for one-third of our exports, is in the midst of an economic crisis. The US is in better shape, but its recovery from its own crisis is slow.
The Far East, which is considered the world’s early adopters, has its problems. China has a strong GDP growth, but it is low compared to its performance in the past.
The same holds true for raising money to finance the hi-tech industries, and especially start-ups. The world is strapped for money. It is not only local VC funds that are feeling the pinch; it is also the VC funds in the US and Europe,” she says.
“But this, in my opinion, is a passing phase and, consequently, I believe that we should invest in this downturn,” she is quick to add. “A downturn is followed by an upturn, By investing when the business cycle is at the trough, one can reap the benefits when the cycle reaches its peak.”
Most executives of science-oriented companies complain that there is a shortage of personnel. Do you agree?
I wouldn’t say there is a shortage of engineers, but there is a shortage of technicians. This is an endemic problem for the local economy as a whole. The education system produces doctors, engineers, biologists, etc. But it does not produce carpenters, metal workers, plumbers, printers, etc., nor does it produce the much-needed technicians for the hi-tech industry – i.e., people who have two-year degrees in electronics, robotics, mechanical engineering and so forth…Read More>>