Two Israeli leaders have recently been in New Zealand sharing lessons from the start-up nation. Hila Oren has just toured New Zealand telling how the Israel’s second largest city, Tel Aviv, became known as “the start-up city” and offering suggestions for New Zealand cities. And Shai-lee Spigelman was a panellist at the Digital Nation 2030 summit in Wellington.

Ms Oren is CEO and founder of Tel Aviv Global Administration. She is responsible for developing and implementing Tel Aviv’s brand. The Startup City vision includes a municipal strategy for investors, entrepreneurs, tourists, and students. And it’s working – Tel Aviv was ranked as having the top startup ecosystem in Europe.

Oren has recently concluded a series of meetings with New Zealand mayors, councils, and businesses to share her experience and help them “aim to become a smart city and adapt to the future now“. That includes public participation and engagement using technology as well as creating conditions for safe, sustainable urban development.

Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Taranaki leaders heard from Oren about the importance of global cities and why they should be emulated. However, she openly acknowledges there are some differences in culture between Israelis and Kiwis – telling Newsroom that “[Israelis] are never afraid to ask for things – anything, I think a New Zealander would be too polite. And Israelis are not worried by the answer, we just adapt”.

Adaptation was also a large part of the agenda at the Digital Nations conference in Wellington, where Ms Spigelman was a panelist. The D5 conference, as it is known, enables the world’s most advanced digital nations to share best practices and collaborate on common projects. It should be no surprise, then, that the nations’ flags flying outside the beehive for the conference include the top 3 most educated countries in the world (Canada, Japan, and Israel).

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Ms Spigelman leads the Israeli government’s national digital program and national strategy around digital education, digital health, economics in the digital age, smart cities, digital literacy and other fields. As well as being a panelist at the conference, she also signed the official new D7 charter (welcoming Canada and Uruguay to the other five) on behalf of Israel.

It is great to see such cooperation and sharing between New Zealand and Israel. We look forward to Hila Oren’s return to Aotearoa later this year.

[This article is re-printed with the permission of IINZ]