This year, StarTau hosted a diverse and dynamic group for International Business Week 2016 (IBW). This group included participants from all over the world—every continent was represented besides Antarctica and Australia. This diversity brought about fascinating discussion and lively exchange of ideas throughout the week. Many of our participants had a background in startups, others in venture capital and more, but all were here to gain new information and ideas.

Our participants wanted to know why Israel is considered Startup Nation, and how the successes of Israel could serve as a guide to them in their business endeavors and lives back home. It was amazing to watch people who previously knew very little about Israel grow to understand what makes this place so special.

We started off the week with an introduction to StarTau, explaining how we link private sector entrepreneurship, angels, VC's and companies to the academy and the public sector. We then began our tour of the Tel Aviv Startup ecosystem in Florentine, at the uber hip co-working space and accelerator, Sosa. Later in the day, we met at Blumberg Capital, one of the leading venture capital firms in Tel Aviv and Silicon Valley. We ended this action packed day at a cocktail reception with the Mayor of Tel Aviv to kick off the week of innovation festivals. Of course, we had to mix work with a bit of play.

The rest of the week included many more meetings, tours, and informational sessions such as these, all with the best of the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem start-up scene. Some highlights included SimilarWeb, Check Point Securities, Mobileye, WeWork, and the Jerusalem Development Authority. When we were not learning and touring these incredible places, our group attended both the Tel Aviv Cities Summit and the annual DLD, Digital Life Design, Innovation Festival.

At the Tel Aviv Cities Summit, housed in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, we heard from entrepreneurs, city innovators, senior urban administrators, and visionaries from cities around the world talk about innovation in urban life. It was eye opening to hear about innovation in places like Berlin, Tokyo, and Mumbai, as well as Tel Aviv. It was also personally moving for me as an American in Tel Aviv to fully understand how impressive this city is, and how other major international cities look to Tel Aviv as a hub of technological advancement.

Next, at the DLD Innovation Festival, our participants heard from inspiring speakers, networked with impressive DLD attendees and sponsors, and even received a private tour of the Intel Innovation tent. The festival cemented the fact that Israel attracts those far and wide, the best and the brightest, to invent, improve, and dream bigger. It is an inspiring place for not only entrepreneurs, but anyone who cares about the future of our world. StarTau helped our participants come to see this by the end of IBW.

On our final day, the group traveled to Jerusalem to see the thriving start-up scene that is also present there. Besides being exposed to the historic and beautiful holy city, we heard from the Jerusalem Municipality, the MassChallenge accelerator, and the Jerusalem Development Authority, which promotes economic development in Jerusalem. It was the perfect way to end the week.

All in all, I was incredibly grateful to be a part of the StarTau team during IBW. StarTau is a connector and a key support to the start-up ecosystem in Israel. Through the eyes of our participants, I gained a new found pride for the Israeli Tech scene and organizations, like StarTau, that support such an important place like Israel.

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