Israeli cybersecurity has become something of a brand. And it’s Joshua Cohen’s job to promote it to American executives looking for new technologies.

Cohen is director of cyber at the Economic and Trade Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. One of his main roles is to take U.S. CISOs, systems integrators, MSPs or potential investors on weeklong trips to Israel to explore the innovative technology the country has to offer.

“I have found that bringing an American delegation to Israel, and immersing senior cyber executives in the Israeli cyber ecosystem for a full week provides incredible benefits,” Cohen said. “When you get people there for a full week, they’re going to meet many Israeli cyber companies, and that can make a dramatic difference in terms of fostering connections.”

Idan Wiener, CEO and co-founder of Illustria, an agentless watchdog for open source packages, can vouch for Cohen’s effectiveness.

“Josh is a networking machine,” Wiener said. “He was Illustria’s catalyst. I met him by chance at a cyber conference, and within days, we signed a term sheet with U.S.-based ICI Fund. He knew exactly what the fund was looking for, and the stars aligned. Every subsequent connection he made also had an immediate impact. He’s pure gold.”

A 2009 book dubbed Israel “Startup Nation,” and the cyber industry proves that point: About 500 cybersecurity companies operate in the country of just 10 million people, and in 2021, fully 40% of all venture capital and private equity money for cyber worldwide went into Israel, Cohen said.

“American cyber executives and professionals know there’s a lot coming out of Israel,” Cohen said. “They may have used Israeli cyber products. So they want to see it for themselves, and want the chance to meet many companies at once.”

When Cohen brings U.S. delegations to Israel, he usually combines their visit with one of the major cyber trade shows that Israel hosts: CyberTech at the end of January, and Cyber Week at the end of June. During their week in Israel, then, they’ll have two to three days of customized content, combined with a couple of days at the show.

The customized content will include visits to several cyber VCs to learn about their portfolio companies; one-on-one meetings with companies; and panel discussions on subjects such as the geopolitics of cyber and the threat landscape. Every night there’s a networking event.

Delegation members can ask to meet with specific companies, or give Cohen categories of products they’re interested in so he can recommend companies he thinks they would benefit from meeting.

“Because I’m not tied to any company or any individual VC or organization, I can be very objective in terms of the types of companies that may be the best fit for their needs,” he said.

It’s simple to join a delegation: Contact Cohen at–cohen/ or, and he’ll explain how it works, share a schedule and offer a rough price estimate. Executives are responsible for their own airfare and hotels. But host companies and VCs usually offer meals, and the mission provides most transportation, so Cohen says the full work week of meetings can be done comfortably for about $3,000 to $3,500.

“If someone becomes immersed in the Israeli cyber ecosystem for essentially a full working week around a trade show, nothing beats that,” he said. “They’re going to meet a lot of companies, and everyone who comes has an amazing experience. If you’re in the cyber industry, you really should try it at least once.”

The Economic and Trade Mission is part of the Israeli Foreign Trade Administration, whose 45 offices around the world play an important role in promoting Israeli exports overseas. This export promotion machine within the government gives Israel a competitive advantage that allows it to punch above its weight.

Cohen’s strategy is to seek what he calls organic connections between the Israeli cyber ecosystem and American cyber executives.

“The U.S. is an incredibly competitive market for cyber,” he said. “The average chief information security officer easily gets 50 to 100 pitches a month or more, and it can be a bit overwhelming. But that approach of just kind of blindly reaching out doesn’t work. So one of the main things I’ve done is to create a structure that focuses on education and a natural kind of organic interaction.”

In addition to the delegations, Cohen’s office can also arrange for American executives to meet with Israeli companies in the U.S. Because the American market is the top priority for Israeli cyber firms, they often have a sales presence in the U.S., and their executives visit frequently.

Cohen also makes introductions through “Lunch with the Founder” events for DC-area security  executives and Israeli cyber companies, and through the Israeli Startup Advisory Network, a group he has created in partnership with Virginian-based Merlin Ventures, which has an office in Israel and knows its cyber ecosystem well.

“It fits in with my general theory that the organic approach to introducing Israeli cyber firms to the US is best, as opposed to the hard sell, mass email pitch,” he said.

ISAN hosts monthly, one-hour calls where Merlin profiles four to five Israeli cyber startups, then throws open the discussion to participants. It occasionally also hosts a Cyber Showcase that functions on the Shark Tank model.

Group members can then contact Cohen to meet companies whose technologies interest them. Executives are recruited to ISAN through LinkedIn or personal contacts, or can join by getting in touch with Cohen.

Israel’s strength in cybersecurity originated in national security considerations. As computers became much more widely used in the 1990s, and internet connectivity generated increased vulnerability, Israel began to develop and prioritize cybersecurity, establishing special military intelligence units such as 8200 that are well known today.

The talent bred there then flowed into the private sector. This model of intelligence unit veterans setting up enterprising new companies “developed a kind of momentum of its own,” bolstered by the government’s continued identification of cybersecurity as a technological priority, Cohen explained.

Israel is strong across the board in cybersecurity, but several hot areas in which it stands out are cloud security, cloud data security, supply chain security and API security, Cohen said. People are also interested to hear about cyber firms that can fit within the context of a zero-trust architecture, he added.

“There was a tremendous burst of innovation out of Israel during Covid,” he said. “There are whole new categories that exist today within cyber that maybe didn’t exist a few years ago.”

American cyber executives are positively disposed toward Israel, Cohen has found.

“You have a specific respect for the technological prowess of Israel. And within the American cyber industry, there are a fair number of veterans who have served in the U.S. armed forces and they respect Israel as being strong and able to defend itself,” he said. “It’s been gratifying to learn just how much respect there is for Israel overall within the U.S. cyber community.”