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The Australian Government wants the business, investor and legal communities to grow “start-up ecosystems” and ride the high-tech boom to prosperity. Austrade is setting up five overseas Innovation Landing Pads to help Australian entrepreneurs with “market-ready start-ups” thrive. It launched the first Landing Pad in Tel Aviv, Israel, in mid-2016. Lawyer Micha Tollman is a partner with Yigal Arnon & Co. Law Firm, a leading firm in the city with a top-tier high-tech and venture capital practice.

There are so many high-tech start-ups in Tel Aviv that it is known as “Silicon Wadi” – wadi being a term for valley in Hebrew and Arabic. The city is a magnet for tech entrepreneurs and investors, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is sending Australians to an Innovation Landing Pad there to learn how to be more innovative, creative and daring.

Austrade set up the Landing Pad, which is the first of five it plans to launch. The others will be in San Francisco, Berlin, Shanghai and Singapore. Austrade describes a Landing Pad as “a collaborative workspace to pursue international opportunities by getting immersed in the local start-up culture”. Australian entrepreneurs can apply for grants to attend for up to 90 days. They are offered training, coaching and the opportunity to participate in tailored networking events.

The Australian Government chose Tel Aviv for its first Landing Pad quite simply because the numbers stack up. Israel has more companies listed on the Nasdaq, the second-largest stock exchange in the world, than any other country besides the US and China. Israel also attracts more venture capital per person than any other country. In 2015, the Israeli Venture Capital Association reported that venture capital funds in Israel raised US$4.43 billion in 708 deals. The same year, the Global Start Up Ecosystem Ranking placed Tel Aviv fifth, after Silicon Valley, New York City, Los Angeles and Boston. The first Australian city on the list was Sydney at 16.

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