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July 1, 2016 3:38 am

Former CIA Director Petraeus Hints at Personal Involvement in Growing Israel’s Startup Presence in US

avatar by Lea Speyer

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Former CIA Director David Petraeus hailed Israel for its startup nation. Photo: Darren Livingston/ Central Intelligence Agency.

Former CIA Director David Petraeus hailed Israel for its startup nation. Photo: Darren Livingston/ Central Intelligence Agency.

Former CIA Director David Petraeus hinted on Wednesday that he will be part of a push to grow Israel’s startup sector and move Israeli companies into the US market, Jewish Insider reported.

Petraeus indicated this during a panel discussion hosted by the Paul E. Singer Foundation and Start-Up Nation Central — which took place on the sidelines of the Ideas Festival in Aspen — that was moderated by Dan Senor, co-author of the best-selling book, Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle.

According to Petraeus, the book Start-up Nation “should be rewritten” to reflect Israel’s thriving and influential startup ecosystem. “It should be titled ‘Scale-Up Nation’ and if I and a bunch of others have anything to do with it, that’s what’s going to happen,” he said.

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“What happened in Israel is: up until recently, many startups get going and have a valuation of $150 million, which is pretty awesome, and so they sell,” he said. “Now they’re starting to scale-up. This is going to be exciting because now you’ll have to have an affiliate in the US, which is extraordinary.”

Petraeus is personally invested in at least two startups in Israel. His first, in 2015, was the Tel Aviv-based ship monitoring startup Windward, which provides intelligence and surveillance on the world’s oceans.

The former CIA director’s comments come on the heels of a report this week by the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), warning that Israel’s startup bubble may soon burst.

“We are at a crossroads,” said Chief Scientist Avi Hasson in a statement. “Thanks to the extensive activity in Israel over the past two decades, we have accomplished extraordinary achievement, but it looks like the ‘seven good years’ are over and that we are approaching our glass ceiling.”

According to the IIA’s report, two of the biggest challenges facing the startup nation is a shortfall in the cultivation of hi-tech talent and the downgrading of its international innovation rankings.

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