31 Mar 2009
Professor Michael Porter Hosts Mayor of Jerusalem at Harvard Business School
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Professor Michael Porter and Mayor Nir Barkat
at Harvard Business School
Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva

BOSTON — Michael E. Porter, the world's premier authority on the competitiveness of companies, countries, and regions, recently hosted a roundtable discussion with the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, and a group of notable Bostonians from business, academia, and medicine to discuss the economic development of Jerusalem, at once Israel's most famous and poorest city.

The discussion took place on the HBS campus at the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, which Porter heads. Dr. Yagil Weinberg, an expert on business strategy and development and founder of Axes Partners, a global consulting firm, helped host the event.

Porter, Harvard's Bishop William Lawrence University Professor based at Harvard Business School, has been working for several years with Mayor Barkat, the software entrepreneur and venture capitalist turned politician who served as a city councilor for five years before being elected mayor of Jerusalem three months ago.

"We realize that Jerusalem has to improve its economic status and make the most of its competitive advantages," said Barkat at a press briefing following the roundtable. The focus of the city's efforts, he explained, will be on culture and tourism, health and life sciences, and the outsourcing of professional services.

"The mayor is nurturing collaboration among Jerusalem's various constituencies to support systematic economic development," Porter observed. "I am excited by his commitment to transformational change."

Home to two major medical centers and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (which ranks twelfth worldwide in biotech patents), as well as a new "biomed" facility and cohorts of Ph.D. students, this venerable city is particularly well positioned to be a leader in life sciences and health care. "Our focus will be on niches such as cancer, stem cells, cardiology, and medical tourism," said Mayor Barkat.

Noting Jerusalem's extraordinary history and the key role it has played for centuries in the lives of Jews, Christians, Muslims, and members of the Orthodox Church, Barkat said that he sees "the world as shareholders in the city of Jerusalem" as it strives for success in the 21st century.