Opinion | Innovation is the key to bolstering Israel-Morocco relations

Yariv Becher
Yariv Becher (Via JNS.org)

By Yariv Becher

Morocco is rapidly becoming an economic leader in the Middle East and North Africa region. On this path, laid out by His Majesty King Mohammed VI’s “New Development Model,” Morocco has identified the injection of innovation and the adoption of technology across its economic sectors as the key to its economic success. As one of the world’s prominent innovation hubs, Israel is a natural partner for Morocco in achieving its goals and realizing the king’s vision.

Innovation is the most significant economic driver for a world that’s constantly striving to advance and overcome challenges through technological solutions. Israel is one of the world’s leading centers of innovation, home to more than 7,000 innovative companies, from startups to multinational enterprises, including more than 350 R&D centers of global corporations. Israel is ranked seventh on Bloomberg’s Innovation Index and is the second-largest spender in the world on R&D relative to its GDP. With a record high of $26 billion in tech investments in 2021, it also leads the world in investments per capita.

Business relations between Israel and Morocco, boosted by the rekindling of official ties between the countries in December 2020, have seen rapid growth, doubling over the past year. However, for the relations to really take off and expand, they need to be based on collaborations in the fields of innovation and must be connected to the economy of tomorrow that’s founded on technology.

To this end, Start-Up Nation Central, a nonprofit organization that promotes Israeli innovation around the world by connecting it to global challenges and opportunities, has initiated “Morocco-Israel: Connect to Innovate,” the first-ever binational business conference, to be held in Morocco in the coming weeks. It will focus on innovation, bringing together Israeli and Moroccan businesspeople and entrepreneurs in Morocco in the coming weeks.

The king has set an inspiring vision for the future of Morocco in his new model, which positions the nation as a vital economic partner for Israel in the region and as a bridge to Africa. Israeli innovation in the different sectors that are the pillars of the king’s program can be instrumental in making this vision a reality. The scores of Israeli startups that will join the Israeli delegation to the event — specializing in the fields of agritech, water, energy and logistics — offer solutions that can assist Morocco in achieving its goals, while Morocco offers these companies opportunities to scale up and expand their geographical reach.

Recently, Start-Up Nation Central has added an additional pillar to its activities: Innovation Diplomacy, which aims to forge resilient, long-term relationships rooted in business collaborations that address shared challenges. In the broadest sense, Israeli innovation includes not just technology but also know-how and experience, and can help Israel’s partners address national strategic challenges while creating meaningful bridges to strengthen and solidify binational relations.

In this vein, the agenda of the three-day gathering touches on shared strategic challenges both countries face — challenges such as availability of human capital, climate change and spurring innovation. By working together, bringing to the table each country’s complementary strengths, we will be able to address these challenges and create a better future for our nations and the region more broadly.

With the belief that developing economic relations requires lengthy processes, the event is not an end unto itself, but rather a major stepping stone in the establishment of long-term economic relations between Israel and Morocco, giving a shot of innovation vigor to lift off and reach new heights.

Yariv Becher is vice president of innovation diplomacy at Start-Up Nation Central and a former commercial attaché on behalf of Israel’s Ministry of Economy, helping Israeli technology companies penetrate foreign markets.

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