Oct 21, 2015
Coming together to explore ideas and get excited about them as a group: “That’s exactly how research projects should start!” said Professor Amalya Oliver of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, summing up an interdisciplinary meeting of entrepreneurship researchers held at Freie Universität Berlin. Entrepreneurship is a hot topic, not only in Berlin, Germany’s start-up capital, but also in Israel, a nation of business founders. How the two locations are increasingly forging ties with each other was one of the subjects of a German-Israeli workshop.
In early September, a group of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem visited the Department of Management at Freie Universität. The reason for their visit was a joint interdisciplinary workshop on the subject of entrepreneurship in Berlin and Israel. Amalya Oliver, a professor of sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and business specialist Jörg Sydow of Department of Management at Freie Universität had invited the participants to attend. The term “entrepreneurship” is used for business start-ups that do something new, whether that means exploring new ideas, business models, or market opportunities. Along with discussing the subject of “networked entrepreneurship,” which is currently garnering a great deal of attention in Israel, as elsewhere, the goal of the event was to develop a joint research project between Freie Universität and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The centerpiece of the four-day workshop was an extensive discussion regarding cooperation behavior and overall conditions for start-up founders in Berlin and Israel. Ten professors and junior scholars discussed the results of their recent research on entrepreneurship. The discussion highlighted the commonalities and differences between the two start-up locations with an eye to various factors, such as the configuration and origins of the founders’ personal networks. These kinds of networks are crucial to business startup processes, since they give young companies access to important resources and know-how. The participants also discussed how to make it possible to transfer technology between the two sites, for instance through different exchange programs.
The overall conditions for entrepreneurship in Germany and Israel are very different. While the desire to start a business is more widespread in Israel, there is significantly more institutional support in this country. In this way, the two countries can learn from each other and even work together in the course of transnational start-up activities. More and more Israeli start-up founders are finding it worthwhile to forge ties with Germany, and German companies also cooperate increasingly with Israeli firms within the scope of innovation partnerships. The planned research project should provide a better understanding of these interconnected, transnational entrepreneurship activities.
One day of the workshop was devoted to “field work”: The international research group visited various Israeli start-ups and Berlin entrepreneurship institutions and engaged in extensive talks with founders, for example at the “Hub:raum” start-up program sponsored by Deutsche Telekom.
On the final day of the workshop, participants planned their joint further work on the subject in light of the impressions they had formed so far. The goal was to gain further insight into entrepreneurship in Berlin and Tel Aviv, both hubs of start-up activity, in the future. The workshop was supplemented by a cultural program and extensive personal dialogue between the scholars and researchers. This laid the foundations for new friendships and greater academic cooperation.