This "Sustainable Jew" column appeared in the canadian Jewish News on July 7, 2011
Once a year, Moses Znaimer convenes the Ideacity conference in Toronto. This year, the focus was the concept that the rate of cultural and economic progress depends on the rate at which ideas are having sex. The idea was first proposed by Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist.
Saul Singer, co-author of the book Startup Nation: the Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, spoke at the conference and made a valiant effort to connect Israel’s transformation from a semi-socialist backwater into a high- tech superpower to the theme of Ideas having Sex.
He related the Shai Aggasi, Better Place, electric car story. When Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty visited Israel last year, he saw how the electric car infrastructure was being deployed in Israel and opportunity to deploy in Ontario. A Better Place pilot project is in place with by PowerStream, the Local Distribution Company for electricity in the York Region, North of Toronto.
Although Saul’s example and the Premier’s visit did not fully connect the idea of the Startup Nation and IdeaSex, the opportunity for a real idea exchange and idea improvement between Canada and Israel got me thinking about what needs to be done for sustainability.
Perhaps what is needed is a program to engage students between the age of 20 and 30 in Canada and the US and place them in Israeli startups and creating IdeaSex opportunities by bringing Canadian and Israeli ideas together, to create something new, better and different.
Imagine you are a student in a Canadian university or community college. You’ve decided not to follow your parent’s advice to go into a profession, and you decide to pursue your dream to make the world better by making it more sustainable. As part of fulfilling your degree or certificate requirements you are now looking for job experience in the area of the environment, possibly energy conservation, renewable energy, sustainable operations or public policy.
You keep hearing about Israel entrepreneurship in the high-tech and renewable energy space. You want to gain some experience, You are not ready to commit to making aliyah, but you want to gain some experience in Israel, and bring those positive experiences back to your campus, especially to help change the channel when the infamous Israel Apartheid Week arrives at your campus.
The Jewish Agency and the UJA Federation of Toronto have come up with Israel Innovation Internship Program / Career Israel Program. By checking out http://www.careerisrael.com, you can look at internship opportunities and select the environment option to find over 20 positions available to gain experience in the environmental and sustainability space.
Canadian students should find the opportunity to work and gain experience in an Israel startup attractive. Gaining degree relevant experience and returning to Canada with work and cultural intercourse experience is a great example of the potential of Canadian and Israeli ideas having sex.
The experience can produce economic ambassadors who can be deployed on campuses across Canada while connecting the next generation of Canadian Jewry to Israel and their Jewish identity. Are you up to it?