Abigail Klein Leichman
January 10, Updated January 14

The Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) has joined forces with several government ministries to invest over 100 million shekels ($27.6 million) toward establishing nine new regional innovation hubs.

The IIA already runs technological innovation incubators across Israel. Three innovation hubs (NorthMed, Hasoub Labs and Base Camp) were established in the Arab sector in 2022, in collaboration with the IIA and the Ministry of Social Equality.

This new project aims to foster entrepreneurship and promote high-tech in the northern and southern periphery since Israel’s startup ecosystem is concentrated mainly in the center of the country.

The following nine consortiums of Israeli and international corporations, investors, regional clusters and associations won the tender:

  • Galileo Studio Ventures will operate an innovation center in agritech and food tech in the Eastern Galilee and Golan Heights. Partners include the Israel Innovation Institute, the MIGAL Institute and JVP.
  • SeaNovation Eilat will operate an innovation center in the Eilat-Eilot region, focusing on biotechnology and marine agriculture. Partners: the Israel Innovation Institute, Aradum Maintenance and Management, Aradg, Marine and Lakes Research Institute, and the Eilat campus of Ben Gurion University.
  • 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 others.
  • Northern Climate Synergywill operate an innovation center 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.
  • Techlinic will operate an innovation center in East Jerusalem for health tech. Partners: Techlinic, the scientific subsidiary of Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Sheba ARC (Sheba Medical Center’s innovation center) and the Tkuva Risk Capital Foundation, in collaboration with Azrieli College of Engineering, SigmaLabs, Hadassah Medical Center.
  • DAROM Innovation Center will operate an innovation center in the Eastern Negev, with a focus on renewable energy technologies and advanced industry. Partners: Inside Outsourcing, Restart, Israel Aerospace Industries, Doral Hydrogen, Sonol Israel. 
  • Technological Center for Security and Resilience in the Western Negev will operate a center in the Gaza border region focusing on homeland security and nutritional resilience. Partners: Southup Center, the Western Negev Cluster Association, the Sderot Foundation for Development, Or Movement, Sapir College.
  • 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: Merage Foundation Israel, InNegev incubator, Israel Innovation Institute, Ben Gurion University of the Negev’s BGN Technologies, Group 19, Fusion Fund, Netafim.
  • INNOVEASTECH 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 an accumulated grant of up to 15 million shekels over a five-year period. They will find synergies with existing local entities to stimulate economic growth in the selected regions.

Many of the people involved in establishing the new centers are serving in the military reserves, evacuated from their homes, or otherwise deeply affected by the war.

One of the future hub CEOs, from Kiryat Shemona near the Lebanese border, wrote to the IIA that he received the good news of winning the tender while under rocket fire. He said he felt energized and “happy to hear that an authority like yours is already building for the day after.”

Minister of Innovation and Science Ofir Akunis said: “The significance of establishing innovation centers is particularly crucial at this time. Israel’s advantages in science and technology are harnessed to promote a better humanity, while our hostile enemies surround us, embracing the opposite. Innovation centers from Kiryat Shemona through the Gaza border region to Eilat. They reflect the beautiful face of Israeli society as a whole, now reaching its ultimate pride and readiness for the new peaks that will come forth at the end of the war.”

VP and head of Startup Division at IIA Hanan Brand added that the tender process began even before the war, but the project has gained critical importance for the targeted communities because of the war.

In Eilat, for example, the economy is dependent on tourism. Since October, there is no tourism and the hotels are housing tens of thousands of evacuees. The SeaNovation hub brings the potential for an income stream unrelated to tourism.

The new hubs, says Brand, “are about building a new economic future and reflect agreement among seven ministries that this is important for Israel’s recovery plan after the war.”

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