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Tel Aviv, Israel

Exploring Israel’s Innovation Ecosystem for Sustaining Human & Planetary Health

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Program Quick Facts

  • Location: Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Beersheba, Israel
  • Stanford Faculty Leaders: Sara Singer and Gordon Bloom
  • BOSP Program Manager: Morgan Diamond [Email] [Schedule Appointment]
  • Program DatesAugust 16-September 6, 2022
  • Program Cost: $600 program fee; please visit the Overview page for complete information about the program fee structure and financial assistance
  • Academic Prerequisites: Students will be invited to enroll in a spring quarter course entitled MED 131: Exploring Israel's Ecosystem in Human and Planetary Health. Students may enroll for one or more credits (additional credits available for related, independent work). The course, which will explore the question -- can start-up culture and technology heal the world -- will meet four times, at hours determined mutually agreeable for faculty and students. Students studying abroad during Spring term will be included remotely, if desired.
  • Activity Level: Light/Moderate. Activities may include city walking tours, easy/short hikes, museum and other site visits as well as an occasional physical activity such as snorkeling, hiking, or kayaking.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Health Information for Travelers to Israel
  • US State Department Country Information: Israel International Travel Information
  • Visa Information: Consulate General of Israel
  • Application Deadline: Sunday, January 23, 2022 at 11:59pm PT

General Description

3-week immersive course: We will journey to key Israeli centers of innovation in health and the environment to meet with leading innovators, entrepreneurs, university faculty, government policymakers, domain experts and changemakers, and to build our understanding of how socio-cultural and technological conditions in Israel shape the ecosystem that propels innovation for sustaining human and planetary health.

Why Israel?

  • Israel’s health and innovation system is one of the most admired in the world, and Israel invents and provides services at the technological frontier.  While spending only 7.6% of its GDP on health care, average life expectancy of Israelis is 82 years, among the highest in the world. Israel is ranked 6th on Bloomberg’s 2018 ranking of Health Care Efficiency; in contrast, the US ranked 54th out of 56 countries.    
  • Israel is a leader in environmental and ecological innovation in such areas as water, sustainable agriculture, solar energy and renewable resources, and its culture reflects a belief in the importance of Tikkun Olam- healing or repairing the world.
  • Israel, despite its small size, is home to a disproportionate number of start-ups. Known as “start-up nation”, this country of 8.8 million punches well above its weight in terms of innovation, with over 6000 startups as of 2017.  
  • Israel is a small, manageable country. Its innovation ecosystem is concentrated such that one can observe and understand what drives it over the course of a 3-week seminar.
  • Many institutional and personal connections and collaborations  between Stanford and Israel already exist, including extensive research and teaching collaboration between Stanford School of Medicine and Technion-affiliated Rambam Medical Center (Haifa) and between the program’s faculty leaders and the Universities and individuals mentioned below. These established connections also present opportunities for participating students to find internships and to forge partnerships of their own.
  • Israel combines history, culture, politics, and religion in unparalleled ways that influence not only the health and environmental innovation ecosystem but all aspects of life. This rich set of influences will be on display in ways that present meaningful learning opportunities in the human and planetary health-innovation sector and beyond. 

Learning Goals

Students will gain (1) an understanding of how socio-cultural conditions, including political, regulatory, military, and academic institutions; geographical, historical, environmental, and technological conditions; and human cultures and activities have shaped the innovation ecosystem for sustaining human and planetary health in Israel into one of the world’s most productive centers; and (2) an appreciation of the advantages and disadvantages faced by entrepreneurs in Israel, how they have evolved, and how they compare to the experience of entrepreneurs in the US and elsewhere.

Course Summary

This summer seminar will be based at four universities and their paired medical/innovation centers: 

  • In Haifa, the renown Technion Israel Institute of Technology (established in 1912 during the rule of the Ottoman Empire, the oldest university in Israel) and Rambam Medical Center (named for the 12th Century physician/philosopher Maimonides, known as The Rambam), and the Technion Drive Accelerator.
  • In Tel Aviv/Herzliya (Israel’s Silicon Valley), the progressive Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) and Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer (ranked one of the 10 Best Hospitals in the World) and their new ARC (Accelerate Redesign Collaborate) Innovation Center.
  • In Beersheba, the cutting edge Ben Gurion University of the Negev, leaders in innovation in health and the environment, especially in technology for water and solar power to “make the desert bloom”, and their Advanced Technology Park, and Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR), including the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, the Institute for Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands, and the Swiss Institute for Dryland Environmental and Energy Research.
  • And, in Jerusalem, the storied Hebrew University of Jerusalem (founders included Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Martin Buber and Chaim Weizmann) and the famous Hadassah Medical Center-Mount Scopus and Ein Kerem campuses (with 1000 beds and 31 operating theaters, a chapel with Marc Chagall stained glass windows), and BioHouse/Hadassah Accelerator (powered by IBM Alpha Zone), Israel’s 1st bio-technology hub within a medical center. We will also visit with colleagues in the Israel Ministry of Health, and especially their Digital Health Innovation group.

We will spend several days at and around each university, which will serve as the base for class-based learning.  Class sessions will be interspersed with field-based learning trips, featuring experiential exercises during visits to health incubators, innovation centers, innovation hubs, technology companies, and military and regulatory institutions so that students can speak directly with innovators and entrepreneurs and experience first-hand how innovation in human and planetary health is organized in Israel. Course requirements will include preparatory readings, active participation in planned activities, preparing and presenting an introduction for classmates to one trip activity, and preparing a final brief presentation and reflection paper (or journal), due at the conclusion of the seminar.

Sample Activities and Lecturers/Topics Covered

  • Entrepreneur Roundtable, informal discussion with entrepreneurs about their start-ups and how they got to where they are today. There will be several visits to entrepreneurs and health innovation leaders and their organizations.
  • Live case, which will engage students in an interactive strategy planning session with company leaders.
  • Design session, to envision products or product improvements to better serve low-income children.
  • Professor Miriam Erez, Vice Dean MBA Programs, Chair Knowledge Center for Innovation, William Davidson Faculty of Industrial Engineering & Management, will provide an overview and history of entrepreneurship and the innovation ecosystem in Israel.
  • Professor Varda Liberman, Vice Dean, IDC Arison School of Business, Director MBA in Healthcare Innovation will discuss shared challenges and opportunities facing Israel and the United States, such as COVID-19, skyrocketing healthcare costs and sub-optimal quality and person-centeredness of care, and the role of health innovation in addressing them.
  • Professor Eyal Mishani, Head Research and Development Division, Hadassah Medical Organization will lecture about staying at the forefront of innovation through R&D.


The program will include visiting primarily four major cities: Haifa, Tel Aviv/Herzliya, Beersheba, and Jerusalem that comprise the innovation ecosystem in human and planetary health in Israel. In addition, we will visit sites of historical, cultural, and ecological significance.

Living and Travel Conditions

Students will be in hotels or hostels and there may be some home visits for special meals. There will much walking about, and some hiking and the possibility of swimming in the Mediterranean and floating in the famous super salty Dead Sea. Kosher, vegetarian, and vegan food is readily available at the restaurants and accommodations in Israel. The program will include walking and some easy hikes to visit sites of historical, cultural, and ecological significance, e.g., Jerusalem Old City, Dead Sea, Jaffa Port, Mediterranean (Yam Gadol), Bahai Gardens of Haifa, Bethlehem, Caesarea Ruins.


Sara Singer (Medicine, Business) and Gordon Bloom (Medicine) co-teach MED/HRP 285 Global Leaders and Innovators in Human and Planetary Health and have faculty affiliations including the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health and Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Their combined experience includes study, research, and teaching in several of Israel’s major centers over 30 years, and over 20 years teaching on the faculties of Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton. Gordon and Sara are married. They have a daughter Audrey (22), currently a Stanford senior in Hum Bio, and an environmental tech innovation oriented son, currently a Stanford freshman, Jason (18), and they live in the San Juan residential district on the Stanford campus.

Sara Singer, M.B.A., Ph.D.

Sara Singer is Professor of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Professor of Organizational Behavior (by courtesy) at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Previously, she was a Professor of Health Care Management and Policy at Harvard Chan School of Public Health with dual appointments at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School.

Sara is the Faculty Director of the Center for Leadership and Innovation in Health at the Stanford School of Medicine and Associate Director of the Clinical Excellence Research Center. Her research and teaching in the field of healthcare management and policy focuses on how organizational leadership and culture impact efforts to implement health delivery innovations, integrate patient care, mitigate social determinants that undermine health, and improve safety and reliability of health care organizations. Sara currently leads the AHRQ-funded Engineering High Reliability Learning Lab (EHRLL) and the National Science Foundation program enabling the “Future of Work” in health care, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded initiatives on Corporations and Public Health and Culture of Health: A Business Leadership Imperative, and the Commonwealth Fund and Peterson Foundation-supported program on High Need High Cost Bright Spots. She is a member of Stanford University’s Committee on Faculty Staff Human Resources and the University’s Faculty Women’s Forum. She is a Faculty Affiliate of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford Health Policy (previously, the Center for Health Policy/Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research, which she helped to found in 1999), the Center for Innovation in Global Health, and the Woods Institute for the Environment. Sara is an internationally respected scientist and award-winning teacher. Her publications have won numerous awards, including best paper awards from the Academy of Management’s Health Care Division four times, in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2019. She is the recipient of the 2013 Avedis Donabedian Healthcare Quality Award from the American Public Health Association and the 2014 Teaching Citation Award from the Harvard School of Public Health. She earned an AB in English from Princeton, her MBA from Stanford and her PhD from Harvard in Health Policy and Management.

Gordon M. Bloom, M.B.A., M.F.A.

Gordon Bloom  is founder of the Social Entrepreneurship Collaboratory (SE Lab) at Stanford, Princeton, and Harvard. He teaches about the design, development and leadership of innovative social ventures in global health, development, and the environment.  At Stanford, Gordon leads the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lab (SE Lab)- Global & Planetary Health, teaching and co-creating interdisciplinary courses on health and the environment in collaboration with students, fellows, and faculty across the University.  Gordon is a Lecturer in the Department of Medicine Division of Primary Care and Population Health, Stanford School of Medicine; and a faculty fellow at the Center for Innovation in Global Health and is affiliated with the Center for Health Policy and Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Starting in 2019 Gordon is a mentor of the new Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program. 

Previously, at Harvard, Gordon was faculty director of the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lab (SE Lab) for US & Global Health, and taught jointly on the faculties of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health (Health Policy and Management) and the Harvard Kennedy School (Management, Leadership and Decision Sciences) and served as an Expert-in-Residence (EiR) at the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab), and as affiliated faculty at the Center for Primary Care, Harvard Medical School (HMS). Gordon also served as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (2013-2014) at Harvard Business School in the Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, on the Faculty of Arts & Sciences in the Sociology Department, and as a principal of the Hauser Center for Non-Profit Organizations (2004-2007). 

Gordon served as one of the founding faculty of the $10 million Harvard Reynolds Fellows Program in Social Entrepreneurship, a Center for Public Leadership and Harvard President’s interdisciplinary fellowship initiative that paid full tuition and stipend for graduate students from the Harvard Kennedy School, School of Public Health and Graduate School of Education. 

At Princeton, Gordon served as Dean’s Visiting Professor in Entrepreneurship in 2009-2010. Working together with the School of Engineering & Applied Science, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, he launched a new set of programs and prizes in social innovation and entrepreneurship in collaboration with students, faculty and alumni. 

Through the SE Lab, Gordon has taught over 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students and fellows, and many have won the top awards of prestigious idea and business plan competitions, including those at Stanford, Harvard, Princeton and MIT.  Gordon is an author in the edited volume Social Entrepreneurship: New Models of Sustainable Social Change (A. Nicholls, ed., Yunus, Drayton et. al., Oxford University Press, 2006/2008) and served as a founding member of the Oxford/Ashoka-led University Network for Social Entrepreneurship. 

Gordon’s interest in entrepreneurship is informed by work in both the private and nonprofit sectors in the U.S. (New York, Cambridge, Palo Alto), Europe (London, Paris) and Asia (Hong Kong), as CEO of a medical technology company and in international strategy consulting. He holds degrees from Harvard (AB) magna cum laude in History & Science, Stanford (MBA) with an award for notable contributions to the Public Management Program, and Columbia (MFA) where he held a Shubert Scholarship. 

Prerequisites and Expectations

Students will be invited to enroll in a spring quarter course entitled MED 131: Exploring Israel's Ecosystem in Human and Planetary Health. Students may enroll for one or more credits (additional credits available for related, independent work). The course will meet four times, at hours determined mutually agreeable for faculty and students. Students studying abroad during Spring term will be included remotely, if desired.

Grading Basis

Satisfactory/no credit