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A technology “Davos” in Israel

by Carlo Marroni

He's a young Italian entrepreneur who has lived in Israel for some time. He studied at one of the most prestigious universities in Tel Aviv, and there he founded a venture capital fund specialized in start-ups dedicated to technologies. Jonathan Pacifici, 36 years old, Roman by birth, together with other young partners has placed his bets on the creation of the World Jewish Economic Forum, the Israeli “Davos.”

The idea behind it is to bring the winning formula of the annual Davos World Economic Forum from the Swiss magic mountains of Thomas Mann to the “wadi,” or desert canyons carved from rivers that have been dried up for centuries.

Evidently the time was ripe for a forum of world meetings on the future of the economy (but not only) to take form in the “Silicon Wadi,” the sparkling Israeli enclave where a growing number of technology businesses and start-ups are concentrated.

Pacifici is very familiar with this world, through the Wadi Venture, a company very active in the Israeli Silicon Valley, which represents the highest per capita concentration in the world of high-tech companies, approximately 5,000 out of eight million inhabitants.

“We were aware that the fact that there wasn't a Jewish forum linked to progress and changes represents an anomaly. A super-connector of the economic themes that link the Jewish world in all of its complexity was needed,” commented Pacifici.

In short, the basic idea is to give life and voice to the “stakeholders” of the economy and global society in a forum open to parties interested in dialoguing with the Jewish economic universe and not only the Israeli one.

In fact, the goal of the Wjef (World Jewish Economic Forum) is to strengthen the conditions so that Israel can act as a hub for a vast area of the world.

“Our mission is to act as facilitators of the circulation of ideas, of experiences and of key issues,” said Pacific. “This we can only do by sharing with entrepreneurs, associations and even the state of Israel. The Israeli start-up ecosystem in the high-tech field is a phenomenon growing by 20-25% per year, which has gone straight to the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York and has raised €3.4 billion in 2014.”

Pacifici forecasts that the first event of the World Jewish Economic Forum will be held within a year. And not necessarily in Tel Aviv but perhaps in another Israeli site destined to be developed.

In the meantime, a road show in Europe and the USA will begin to present the initiative and collect support, which is already arriving in large part from Israeli businesses and from the headquarters of the multinationals, over 50 in this case.

But why a Jewish Forum? Isn't it possible that it could be mistaken for a closed club of a strictly religious nature, which would be almost a contradiction when one speaks of a free market?

“On the contrary…the world is global, and this is not a slogan,” he said. “For us, its identity is an important point, representing a way of collecting experiences to then share. And then why is no one surprised by all types of networks, from geographical one to ethnic ones? We believe that an identity-making one is an aspect that is not only legitimate but with a strong added value.”