Israeli scientists have contributed to the advancement of agriculture, computer sciences, electronics, genetics, health care, optics, solar energy and various fields of engineering.
In her book Tiny Dynamo: How One of the World's Smallest Countries is Producing Some of Our Most Important Inventions, author Marcella Rosen profiles 21 Israeli startups inventing technologies to solve global problems.
Rosen, a former exec with the now-defunct Philly-based ad agency N. W. Ayer & Son, founded the website Untold News in 2010 to raise awareness of Israeli innovation. She said Israel is second to none in creating an entrepreneurial mind-set.
"In Israel, they're brainstorming ideas all the time," she said. "If you encourage people to disagree, to ask questions, to take risks, you create a framework where anything is possible and you add to that a can-do attitude; all of this makes a difference."
I'd say Philly could use something like Israeli Advanced Technology Industries (IATI), a 400-member umbrella nonprofit that creates business opportunities for high-tech and life-sciences industries in Israel and abroad; promotes existing and new legislation in the parliament; works closely with government; and supports community activity through tech education.
In a recent op-ed he co-authored in the Inquirer, Bruce Katz, co-director of the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, said Philadelphia needs to do a better job of turning new ideas into new companies and new products. That's key to creating a start-up ecosystem that spawns spinoffs.
A 2011 study by Select Greater Philadelphia ranks the region as a top-five R&D center nationally, yet in measures of commercialization, Philadelphia falls to 11th in total venture capital and 12th in patent production.
Katz wrote that Philly could "supercharge" its economy by growing a "globally significant Innovation District" in University City.
Nutter and local business leaders will get a firsthand look at how that happens when they arrive in Tel Aviv. I hope to speak with the mayor and some of those folks after they return.
On Twitter: @MHinkelman