Where else can you find over 9000 investors, entrepreneurs, and executive and industry experts all under one roof? Look no further than The OurCrowd Summit, hosted for the 10th time in Jerusalem, capital of Startup Nation.
OurCrowd Summit 2023
The OurCrowd Summit is a dazzling annual event that brings together a world of hi-tech; specifically investors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders from around the world to discuss the latest trends and innovations in technology and investment. A few years ago it was cryptocurrency and cannabis. This year it was AI, food tech, and content.
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The summit is organized by OurCrowd, a global investment platform that provides accredited investors with access to pre-vetted startup companies.
Check out our guide here on how to acquire a guaranteed startup loan for your startup company – especially if you have bad credit.
The summit offers an incredibly valuable platform for startups to showcase their products and services, network with investors, and potentially secure funding. OurCrowd has a track record of investing in successful startups, and the summit is a chance for attendees to discover the next big thing in technology and innovation.
Step Into The Summit
Before we touch on the buzzy topics such as AI, Lior Raz, Dubai, and food tech, we would be remiss not to remind ourselves that Israel, resident startup nation, is at the forefront for so many technologies.
It should therefore come as no surprise that the grand entrance to The Summit was graced with a phenomenal sight that could only be witnessed in person: AIR’s Air One.
And sure enough there was a constant audience and buzz that surrounded the AIR car, drawing a rich combination of curious onlookers and serious investors.
Rockstar Lior Raz is Bringing ‘Content Nation’ to Startup Nation
In addition to technology, attendees were treated to watching and listening to the legend himself, Lior Raz. Raz’s presence was a welcome plot twist for the summit – as the founder and star of Fauda he is a ubiquitous character, and now he has coined a new term to go along with the already existing and popular startup nation moniker.
What is this label, you ask? Content Nation, Raz calls it. And content nation it indeed is – Raz recently sold his content production company for $50 million.
Impressive? Of course. But what made this deal compelling is that the deal was backed by Blackstone, the premier leading investment group in the world.
And based on recent news, it seems that the Israel content train is a real thing for TV and movies.
Raz’s presence at OurCrowd may be an indicator that the world of hi-tech may be embracing content, and the power that comes with it, in the coming years.
Do You Even Crypto, Bro?
The last OurCrowd Summit in February 2020 had a heavy crypto presence. Everything from booths to hallway chatter revolved around blockchain technology, cryptocurrency products, and of course the price of Bitcoin.
Conversations related to Bitcoin’s recent price swoon and potential alt coin investments seemed to be muted, relegated to corner of the room conversations between a few subdued yet still confident looking blockchain enthusiasts. I could almost hear their eyes exclaiming to the summit: Don’t you worry, we’ll be back next year.
Though I could not find any overtly crypto or blockchain related startup, I did manage to locate one startup offering services in the digital wallet space but I could not locate the word crypto or blockchain in their booth or in their pamphlet. I asked if their digital wallet could be used for crypto. Yes, though it is not the focus, the startup person replied to me.
AI Has Landed in Israel
The drop-off of blockchain and crypto meant one thing: there was a new, exciting presence for all of us to bask in, known as AI, standing for artificial intelligence.
There was an absolute bevy of AI startups and companies whose messaging is now featuring AI-related elements. ChatGPT was predictably referenced in every other conversation, however the AI startup booths all consistently had people by them waiting to learn more. One thing is for sure: money is flowing into AI and startup founders are eagerly looking and receiving their funding.
As OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved explained to the Jerusalem Post last week:
“We have over 50 AI companies in our portfolio that we’ve invested in so far. It’s gonna affect everything, really everything. We have companies in ag-tech and insurance-tech, automotive and mobility, and all kinds of healthcare applications. It’s just everywhere. It’s actually approaching hysteria-levels of interest in ChatGPT, and that’s affecting everything. People thought initially it was only for students and people who want to plagiarize. Turns out now you can use it to pass a medical entrance exam and get board certified in a legal bar exam. You can write jokes on it, you could write code on it. This whole notion of Generative AI is absolutely huge.”
Effect of the Abraham Accords in Full Swing
It turns out that the Abraham Accords provided Israelis more than just affordable vacation Instagram photo ops in the desert, but rather a serious hi-tech and funding pipeline in which both countries, allies in fact, will benefit from in the future. In fact, the mutual benefit has already begun.
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We had the honor to hear from His Excellency Abdulla Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, director general of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office offer some motivational and stirring words while at the plenary panel on the Abraham Accords:
On the back of these accords, we established an office in Israel looking for companies looking to expand into our country. You can see the power of partnerships in OurCrowds operations in Abu Dhabi. Fundamentally, what we are here to do is create opportunities for Israeli businesses that are looking to expand their operations. This is an opportunity for businesses to look East instead of looking West. There is huge potential for Abu Dhabi-Israel cooperation on innovation. We know you for being a startup nation. We look at this as a model for what Abu Dhabi can become.”
And How About COVID? Is it Still a Thing? Was it Ever?
It is interesting how such a dominant theme in everyone’s lives for the past 3 years never received much representation at OurCrowd Summit. Something about COVID just isn’t in-person friendly. (Can the same be said about NFT’s?).
At the February 2020 summit, COVID was a curious novelty, a pest that would likely be squashed by people’s indifference. At best, an epidemic that would not reach or affect the legions of VC firms or startup companies.
Fast forward to February 2023, and COVID was no longer a curious novelty, nor was it a tragic pandemic, but rather a mere afterthought, for better or for worse.
There seemed to be just one booth dedicated to COVID, and the word ‘dedicated‘ is probably too strong of a word. Sanotize was handing out care packages which included an anti-viral spray, a fresh pair of socks, and a testing kit for COVID AND the flu. AND has been capitalized on purpose, as COVID no longer dominates the agenda, as it is now looked at like the flu. The company’s tagline? “Scientifically tested and proven to kill 99.9% of viruses within 2 minutes.”
Needless to say, Sanotize’s booth was constantly packed with people, all eager to get their hands and feet on their anti-viral spray and fresh looking socks.
Direct Impact: Beyond Profits
It was great and important to see a number of organizations from the non-profit field, headlined by Leket Israel, JGive, Hatzalah, and Yeshiva University, among a few others, the latter of whom brought a sizeable contingent of students to witness the heart and soul of startup nation.
Notable mention to Leket for collecting all of the excess food from the day and giving it to those in need.
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What is in Store for Emerging Hi-Tech Trends in 2024?
As discussed above, it was quite striking to witness the hi-tech and global cultural trends displayed so differently when comparing The Summit from 2020 to 2023. Gone was crypto, blockchain, cannabis, and drones. In came AI, Lior Raz (content), and food-tech. Speaking of food tech, special shoutout to Incredo Sugar; their booth had approximately zero breaks all day due to the high demand for their tasty, reduced sugary snacks.
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As for 2024? One can only hypothesize. Sure, I could ask ChatGPT, but I did something better. I casually asked OurCrowd attendees what they thought. One thing was stirringly clear: the zest for AI was palpable. Almost every answer involved a future iteration of AI development.
However, one must wonder. The zest for AI seemed eerily similar to what we saw in 2020 with crypto and blockchain. Will AI experience a similar crash to the crypto/blockchain market? I would have to presume no, not for now, due to the already practical and in-use AI tools. Blockchain’s practical AI-level use case seems to be 2-3 years away.
But surely there must be something beyond AI in store for us as an emerging tech trend for 2024, right? Based on the eye test, there were two areas which seemed to have just a bit more buzz than everyone else: 1) AIR’s flying car display, prominently at the entrance 2) the food tech room, in which there were constant lines and repeat visits to various food and agro-tech booths.
This leads me to believe that despite mega advancements in programming and computer-related aspects, there is still a yearning, perhaps a harkening, for the tactile. Whether it is peanut butter & jelly flavored peanuts or a futuristic drone-helicopter flying car with space for two, people will always be physically drawn to other physical things.
However this is manifest, one or two things are for sure; AI (and blockchain) will certainly, eventually be involved. Oh, and also, possibly Lior Raz.