The Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) has joined forces with several government ministries to invest more than 100 million shekels ($27.6 million) to establish nine new regional innovation centers.
IIA already runs tech innovation incubators throughout Israel. In collaboration with the IIA and the Ministry of Social Equality, three innovation hubs (NorthMed, Hassoub Labs and Base Camp) were established in the Arab region in 2022.
This new project aims to foster entrepreneurship and promote high-tech in the northern and southern periphery as Israel's startup ecosystem is mainly concentrated in the center of the country.
The following nine consortia of Israeli and international corporations, investors, regional groups and associations won the tender:
- Galileo Studio Ventures will operate an innovation center in agritech and food tech in the Eastern Galilee and the Golan Heights. Partners include Israel Innovation Institute, MIGAL Institute and JVP.
- SeaNovation Eilat will operate an innovation center in the Eilat-Eilot region, focusing on biotechnology and mariculture. Partners: Israel Innovation Institute, Ardam Maintenance and Management, Ardag, Marine and Lakes Research Institute, and the Eilat campus of Ben Gurion University.
- The Built Environment Innovation Center will operate an innovation center in the Western Galilee with an emphasis on green construction. Partners: Impulse Partners, Shibumi Swiss VC, Baran Engineering Group and Bahraini Community.
- Northern Climate Synergy will operate an innovation hub in the Galilee, Golan and Emek region, focusing on agritech, water tech, climate tech and AI. Partners: Kinneret Innovation Center, KKL-JNF, Shamir Research Institute, InnoValley Innovation Center.
- TechClinic will operate an innovation center for health technology in East Jerusalem. Partners: Techlinik, the scientific subsidiary of Shaare Zedek Medical Center, in collaboration with Sheba ARC (Innovation Center of Sheba Medical Center) and Takuva Risk Capital Foundation, Azrieli College of Engineering, SigmaLabs, Hadassah Medical Center.
- DAROM Innovation Center will operate an innovation center in the Eastern Negev focusing on renewable energy technologies and advanced industry. Partners: Inside Outsourcing, Restart, Israel Aerospace Industries, Doral Hydrogen, Sonol Israel.
- The Technical Center for Security and Resilience in the Western Negev will operate a center in the Gaza border area that will focus on homeland security and nutrition resilience. Partners: Southup Center, Western Negev Cluster Association, Sderot Foundation for Development, Ya Movement, Sapir College.
- The DesertTech and Climate Innovation Center will operate an innovation center in Beersheva and the Negev and Arava region to advance climate technologies and desert agriculture. Partners: Meraz Foundation Israel, Innegev Incubator, Israel Innovation Institute, Ben Gurion University of the Negev BGN Technologies, Group 19, Fusion Fund, Netafim.
- Innovstech will operate an innovation center in Judea and Samaria.
- Partners: Ariel University, Ariel Scientific Knowledge Company, TSG (EPR) Software Systems, Formula Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries.
Each hub will receive a cumulative grant of up to 15 million shekels over a five-year period. They will coordinate with existing local institutions to stimulate economic development in selected areas. Many of the people involved in the establishment of the new centers are serving in the military reserves, have been evacuated from their homes, or are otherwise deeply affected by the war.
One of the future hub CEOs of Kiryat Shemona, near the Lebanese border, wrote to IIA that he received the good news of winning the tender during the rocket fire. He said he was feeling energized and “happy to hear that an authority like yours is already building for the next day.”
“The importance of establishing innovation centers is especially important at this time. Israel's strengths in science and technology are used to promote a better humanity, while our sworn enemies surround us, embracing its opposite. Innovation hubs from Kiryat Shemona to the Gaza border area to Eilat. They reflect the beautiful face of Israeli society as a whole, which is now reaching its ultimate pride and readiness for the new peaks that will emerge at the end of the war,” said Ofir Akunis, Minister of Innovation and Science.
The VP and head of the startup division of IIA Hanan Brand said that the tender process had started even before the war, but because of the war the project has gained critical importance for the targeted communities. For example, in Eilat, the economy is dependent on tourism. Since October, there is no tourism and thousands of displaced people are being housed in hotels. Cenovention Hub brings the possibility of an income source unrelated to tourism.
Brand said, “The new centers are about building a new economic future and reflect the agreement between the seven ministries that this is vital to Israel's recovery plan after the war.”
Produced in collaboration with israel21c