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It was my very great pleasure as a member of the DL Advisory Board to speak at Israel’s Digital Leaders convention in Jaffa last November, which launched the official partnership between Digital Leaders UK and its Israeli counterpart. DL Israel focusses on transforming the public sector by training outstanding leaders to promote digital innovation and improve processes and interfaces with citizens through technology. The Digital Leaders Israel programme was initiated by the Israeli government in partnership with the JDC Institute for Leadership and Governance.
In the inspiring setting of the Peres Center for Peace, we heard from a range of speakers about some of the innovation transforming public services in Israel as a direct result of the DL Israel programme. The delegates were the two cohorts that had benefitted from the programme so far, as well as a range of government officials and civil servants.
Israel is perhaps best known in the tech world as a start-up centre – it has more start-ups per capita than any other country. This was celebrated in the UK Digital Strategy launched at the beginning of March by the Rt Hon. Karen Bradley MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, who re-emphasised her support for the UK-Israel Tech Hub in her speech.
At the non-commercial end of the spectrum, the challenge for public-sector transformation projects in Israel as a small state is the need to attract funding. Without funding, the change is neither sustainable nor scalable. DL Israel is to be commended for its commitment to using technology to redress some of the economic and social issues facing the country today. By up-skilling its public-sector workers to understand the importance of technology in service delivery it can achieve a major shift in the quality, accessibility and cost of those services.
DL Israel is unusual amongst the Digital Leaders family in not having private sector support. The organisation is well aware that true impact can only be achieved when all sectors play their part and is working through the barriers currently preventing private-sector participation. I look forward to a time when the start-up world in Israel can work alongside Digital Leaders to assure Israel’s place not just as the start-up capital of the world, but as a place where true digital transformation starts with its own citizens.
I’m delighted to welcome DL Israel to the Digital Leaders global family, and look forward to watching it grow in influence and make the long-lasting impact the country needs.