Israel has become so famous for its high tech entrepreneurs that major multinational corporations flock to “The StartUp Nation” in search of the next breakthrough technology. Often, however, the innovations are little more than an idea, test tubes in a lab, or computer code on a screen. They have a long way to go to prove themselves technologically and then in the market. So this requires the entrepreneurs to invent two things: a product and a business. If they are a scientist or engineer, they often know how to do the first part, but rarely the second.
This is where so-called “accelerators” come in: entrepreneurial training programs and facilities. In general, accelerators try to provide a soup-to-nuts package of resources and advice so promising entrepreneurs can get their products out of the lab and into the market with as little money, time and heartache possible.
There are dozens of accelerators in Israel today, in all different flavors. Some specialize in a particular industry like Brainnovations in Ramat HaSharon that concentrates on neuroscience technologies and UpSide Israel in Netanya that focuses on social media, “Internet of Things” and Facebook Apps.
Others serve specific communities like 8200 EISP in Tel Aviv for graduates of the famous 8200 high tech unit of the Israel Defense Forces, Kamatech in Bnei Brak for Ultra-Orthodox entrepreneurs and naztech in Nazareth for Israeli Arabs.
A lot of them are run by famous corporations from around the globe like Intel, Microsoft, Samsung, Barclays, Citi, Yahoo, and even Coca Cola. These companies are looking for new technologies for their own use as well as new companies for investment opportunities. The corporations provide funding and a shared facility, and deploy their executives to mentor the entrepreneurs.
There are also a number of companies that recruit Israeli entrepreneurs to accelerators outside of Israel like Baltimore’s own HexciteIL which is Johns Hopkins University’s accelerator for Israeli digital health entrepreneurs, and challengeUp! by Intel, Cisco and Deutsche Telekom which brings entrepreneurs to Kraków, Dublin and Berlin.
The Israeli government is very dynamic in supporting this entrepreneurial ecosystem. The entrepreneurs provide the technological creativity and chutzpah (probably the most important ingredient), the government provides startup funding and incentives for companies to collaborate with Israel and the global corporations provide the market knowledge and management skill. It’s a perfect match!
Come learn about Israel’s entrepreneurial ecosystem at, “The Israeli Embassy Comes to Baltimore,” where the Embassy’s Commercial, Economic and Academic Attachés will discuss how their offices promote entrepreneurship, R&D and business collaboration between American and Israeli companies and universities.
Programs such as the U.S.-Israel Bi-National Industrial R&D (BIRD) Foundation and the Binational Science Foundation provide substantial grants to support such joint ventures. The event will be held at 5:30 p.m., March 30 at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. To register, please go to marylandisrael.org/embassybalt2016..