Elron Electronic Industries Ltd. was founded 50 years ago as a result of my decisive commitment to create a knowledge based industry (later named high-tech) in Israel, in order to take advantage of the incredibly advanced research and development that already existed at that time in the defense units and universities, primarily in the Technion –Israel Institute of Technology and the Weizman Institute, but not yet in industry.
In 1962, I succeeded in raising the initial funds, with the assistance of Prof. Moshe Arens. He introduced me to Dan Tolkowsky (General in the Military Reserves), who at that time had joined the Discount Bank Investment Corp. (controlled by the Recanati family). Together with Michael Doron, the Israeli financial representative in the United States, we were joined by the Laurence and David Rockefeller venture fund and raised a total of $160,000…
Obviously the biggest challenge was to identify the target markets worldwide, and the best qualified people in R&D, manufacturing and machinery.
Over time we learned that in order to create a global company we had to spin off our activities into market focused operations which led to converting Elron into an “Operating Holding company”. The first to be spun off-were-: Elscint Ltd. and Elbit Computers Ltd.
Clearly, raising funds became essential at that stage and luckily we met Fred Adler in the United States and with his advice in 1972, Elscint was the first Israeli high-tech company to raise capital on NASDAQ. In 1975, we took Elron public in Israel.
Throughout the years, we learned to constantly adapt our vision to the future, as we learned a lot from our past mistakes and some fortunate opportunities which we did not recognize. However, on the other hand, we succeeded in creating approximately 20 companies (10 of which were traded in the public markets).
Furthermore while being constantly dedicated to our shareholders, we realized that in order to maintain our relative advantage, we had to keep the most talented people in management and support our employees worldwide to achieve their best performance.
By the end of 1999, (when I was almost 75 years old) I decided to hand over Elron’s management to Ami Erel (currently a member of Elron’s Board of Directors), and continued to pursue my vision to make regional innovation a global success.
Looking ahead, Elron should always understand that the ever evolving changes in the high tech industry will be exponential, and therefore, success will depend on choosing the right niches in the world market in which it can maintain and improve its relative advantage.