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The Academic Reserve: Israel’s Fast Track to High-Tech Success

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Document pages: 22 pages

Abstract: What can explain the phenomenal success of the Israeli high-tech and cyber eco-system? While existing explanations focus on technological units of the Israel Defense Forces– and their important role in developing the skills of their veterans who join the high-tech industry after finishing their military service – we argue that current scholarship has missed the important role of the "Academic Reserve " track in this process. The “Academic Reserve” track is a special program in which the IDF postpones the compulsory military service of a select group of high-school graduates, sending them to get academic degrees before completing their compulsory service. Moreover, we argue that this program is one of the main reasons why Israel tops the list of nations in the number of science and engineering university degrees in per capita. By focusing on the important role of the “Academic Reserve”, we provide a broader understanding of Israel’s ongoing technological success.

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