Tech Startup Lessons from Israel: Entrepreneurs Thrive with Collaboration, Government Support

A robust talent pipeline. Government support for startups. Strong academic and STEM education programs. No fear of failure. These are just a few of the key ingredients that contribute to Israel’s status as a top five global technology startup hub.

In an effort to better understand the Israeli ecosystem of innovation, the Detroit Regional Chamber recently attended a five-day, fact-finding mission to the country led by Deloitte and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. It was held concurrently during Gov. Rick Snyder’s Israel trip to enhance business ties with Michigan.

The delegation included chief information technology officers and executives from AT&TConsumers EnergyGeneral Motors, Henry Ford Health System, and nine additional organizations across the state.

During the week, the delegation met with key decision-makers from 12 leading technology startups and attended the 2017 CyberTech Conference in Tel Aviv to hear from cyber experts from multi-national corporations, startups, private and corporate investors, and venture capital firms. Gov. Snyder provided opening remarks at the Conference (pictured).

The group also met with Avi Hasson, Israel’s chief scientist, and received an up-close look at AT&T’s latest innovation center in Raanana, GM’s Advanced Technical Center in Tel Aviv, and Israel’s Startup Nation Central, a nonprofit focused on getting innovation in front of leading companies around the world.

Other stops included meetings with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Talpiot Program, an elite training program for students who excel in science and technology; and CYBERBIT, a global leader in cybersecurity and intelligence.

Building Relationships to Maintain Michigan’s Mobility Leadership

In sheer size comparison, Michigan is 11 times larger than the entire country of Israel. Despite that, estimates put Israel’s startup companies at nearly 1,000 in a given year.

Driving this entrepreneurial boom is a combination of Israel’s mandated military service and the resulting talent development, and robust seed funding from the government and venture capital firms for startups.

Public and private collaboration, along with a dedicated source of government funding, is an area where Detroit and Michigan can draw lessons.

“With more than 90,000 engineers, Detroit is also an innovation center with a similar ecosystem. But where our companies are built to drive innovation internally to meet the needs of their own customers, Israel is more externally focused,” said Justin Robinson, vice president of business attraction for the Chamber.

“The trick is, how do we take our innovation culture and flip it around to encourage more collaboration and information sharing, especially as we look to be a leader in solving issues around global mobility moving forward?” Robinson added.

He said one thing is clear:

“Israel is a market Michigan must have a close relationship with not only because of the volume, but also the quality of innovation taking place. They have a culture that asks partners, ‘bring us your problems’ – and there are no shortage of challenges in delivering autonomous driving to the world,” he said.

“The Chamber and MICHauto are committed to further enhancing the connections between our established automotive industry and venture capital community with the technology ecosystem in Israel. Doing so will be a win-win for both of our communities,” Robinson added.

For more information on Business Attraction, contact Justin Robinson at jrobinson@detroitchamber.com or 313.596.0352.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Hamilton at mhamilton@detroitchamber.com, or 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page.

Cybersecurity Starts at the Top: Why Middle Market CEOs Must Lead

By Daniel Lai 

Cybersecurity is one of the biggest obstacles CEOs face today, according to James Scopis, senior vice president and information security executive at Bank of America. Delivering keynote remarks at the second annual Middle Market CEO Summit, Scopis said that while most senior level managers understand the risk of a cyberattack on a company’s bottom line, security is often not top of mind.

The event was hosted by Bank of America, Deloitte and the Detroit Regional Chamber on Oct. 27 at MotorCity Casino Hotel.

“Security can no longer be an afterthought; it is a competitive advantage in today’s market,” Scopis said. Companies of all sizes face an onslaught of breaches daily, he continued, with most coming from employees, criminals, hacktivists and nation states.

“Threats are evolving — they are cheaper, easier and more anonymous,” Scopis said, pointing to the 2012 attack on Saudi Aramco. The emailed virus erased three-quarters of the company’s corporate data files within hours and caused massive panic among investors.

So what can employers do?

Taking a proactive approach and anticipating threats is key, Scopis said. In addition, it is up to leadership to adopt a culture of security and disseminate it across the company.

Four ways businesses can protect themselves include: keeping software and systems up-to-date, removing administrative privileges from employees’ computers and tablets, controlling vendor network access, and raising employee awareness.

Other tips include:

  • Using online fraud protection software
  • Protecting devices from viruses and online threats via an anti-virus product
  • Not opening attachments from unknown people or organizations
  • Not downloading unfamiliar software
  • Not sharing passwords or pass-phrases

Additional coverage from the Middle Market CEO Summit:

Regional CEOs Tackle Innovation, Cybersecurity and Challenges for the Middle Market

Jeff DeGraff: Don’t Wait for the Next Best Thing to Pass You By, Innovate

Business Leaders are Called On to Help Heal the Country When the Election is Over

Plante Moran announces spring 2014 webinar series on broad range of business, international and tax topics

Southfield, Mich. — Plante Moran, one of the nation’s largest public accounting and business advisory firms, announces its annual spring webinar series begins April 2. The 16 webinars cover a wide range of topics including tax, technology, employee benefits consulting, franchises, government, health care, higher education, K-12 education, not-for-profit, manufacturing, real estate and construction and business services.

There is no charge to participate in the webinars, which are approved for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credit and are part of an ongoing series of educational webinars launched by Plante Moran in 2009. Specifically, a few of the spring webinars include:

The Next Wave of FATCA Is Coming: Are You Prepared?
Tuesday, April 29; 2-3 p.m. EDT

As the implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) continues, beginning July 1, any payment of U.S. source income to a non-U.S. entity recipient will be subject to a 30 percent withholding tax. Many previously obtained forms W-8BEN will become invalid and must be replaced with the new form W-8BEN-E. Therefore, any documentation failures discovered by the IRS likely will result in assessment of withholding tax, interest, and penalties against the withholding agent.

During this webinar, Plante Moran experts will educate internationally active organizations about the continued implementation of FATCA and how to prepare to ensure compliance and avoid penalties. At the conclusion of this webinar, participants will:
• Identify the ins and outs of FATCA and how they apply to internationally active organizations
• Distinguish the four-step process to comply with FATCA

Cyber Security — What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You
Tuesday, May 6; 10-11 a.m. EDT

In an ideal world, an organization would know if it has been targeted for a cyber-attack, the way the attack would occur and the associated risks. The reality is that new technologies lead to both evolved and new threats — all becoming increasingly hostile. No one can predict when confidential information like customer data and organizational intelligence will be compromised and to what extent, which is why organizations continue to identify cyber security as a top challenge.

During this webinar, Plante Moran experts will discuss the myriad virtual connecting points, how these allow for greater vulnerabilities and what organizations can do to protect themselves from a cyber-threat. At the conclusion of this webinar, participants will be able to:
• Identify emerging threats and identify risks
• Determine potential risk level
• Develop or improve a defensive strategy
• Articulate best practices on ensuring organizationwide adoption

All Quiet on the Tax Front? Just Add SALT
Wednesday, May 7; 2–3 p.m. EDT

The one thing you can count on with tax is change. Looking back over the last year and looking forward into the remainder of 2014, there are a variety of developments in the state and local tax (SALT) arena worth paying attention to, including the return of the due process clause as it relates to nexus. Are you prepared?

During this webinar, Plante Moran experts will discuss these changes and other hot-button issues. At the conclusion of this session, participants will be able to:
• Identify three current developments occurring in the state and local tax (SALT) arenas.
• Identify developing SALT trends, including the return of the due process clause as it relates to nexus.
Staying the Course: Monitoring Your Not-for-Profit Organization’s Investment Portfolio
Wednesday, May 21; 2-3 p.m. EDT

After an investment strategy has been tailored to the unique mission and goals of a not-for-profit organization, the organization needs to plan how it will actively supervise and monitor its investment portfolio to ensure it stays on track.

During this webinar, Plante Moran experts will discuss the importance of reviewing performance, interpreting results and identifying adjustments needed to maintain performance and manage risk. At the conclusion of this webinar, participants will be able to:
• Identify the importance of goal-based performance reviews and initiate portfolio adjustments when appropriate.
• Predict how spending policy, fundraising, and capital projects can affect the process.
• Establish a reliable monitoring process through verification and documentation of performance results relative to benchmarks and guidelines.
• Recognize the importance of reviewing the impact of recent market activity for purposes of rebalancing the portfolio, and when to revisit and adjust an investment strategy.

To register for the Plante Moran webinars and/or to view the entire spring webinar series, please visit www.webinars.plantemoran.com.

About Plante Moran
Celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2014, Plante Moran (www.plantemoran.com) is one of the country’s largest certified public accounting and business advisory firms, providing clients with tax, audit, risk management, financial, technology, business consulting and wealth management services. Plante Moran has 22 offices and a staff of more than 2,000 professionals throughout Michigan, Ohio and Illinois, with international offices in Shanghai; Monterrey, Mexico; and Mumbai, India. Plante Moran has been recognized by a number of organizations, including FORTUNE magazine, as one of the country’s best places to work.