Abigail Klein Leichman

The devastating October 7 Hamas attacks on the Gaza border communities of Israel (the “Gaza envelope”) and the war sparked by those attacks took a severe toll on the SouthUp business incubator, established in 2017 to promote technological entrepreneurship in that region.

SouthUp has two locations – one in Sha’ar HaNegev just outside Sderot and the other in Kibbutz Nir Am. Many of the entrepreneurs and workers were evacuated from their homes with their families. Others were drafted into extended military reserve service.

But in recent weeks, the entrepreneurs and workers have begun returning to the Sha’ar HaNegev site, and on April 17 the center in Nir Am reopened fully.

Another hopeful and positive development is that four new startups have joined SouthUp’s existing 27 portfolio companies in the fields of agritech, food tech, medical tech, clean tech, IoT and more:

Dig Robotics, which develops training and control systems to improve the productivity and efficiency of mining sites.

VineRobotics, which develops a smart, AI based robotics system for the cultivation and improvement of vineyards.

MindsView, which offers accompaniment, training and remote medical advice in critical events and treatments using augmented reality technology.

Robin Medical Systems, which developed a system for tracking the position and direction of miniature sensors during an MRI scan to help in performing the test on children or incapacitated adult patients.

And two existing portfolio companies just completed funding rounds.

BioTip (a food-tech startup developing disposable stickers that sense the freshness of products such as meat, fish and poultry) will use its new capital rom private investors and various grants to establish a production plant in Sderot and complete regulatory processes in the United States.

ZutaCore (developing a nonconductive liquid cooling solution for servers and data centers to significantly reduce electricity consumption and gas emissions) is using the millions it raised to expand its global infrastructure.

Startup incubator near Gaza border is back in business
Gil Shwarsman, CEO of SouthUp. Photo courtesy of SouthUp

In addition, said SouthUp CEO Gil Shwarsman, “In the coming weeks, we will launch a regional impact fund that will will invest in startups in the incubator or in other seed companies that operate or are ready to move their operations to the Western Negev region. We are in contact with institutional and private investors in Israel and around the world and the responses we get are very impressive.”

Shwarsman said that after a freeze of almost six months, “we see the beginnings of recovery in the area with interest from investors who understand the need to combine investment in startups with profit potential along with real Zionist vision [concerning] the rebirth of the surrounding area. This is the real answer to bringing it back to being prosperous and flourishing.”

A cornerstone-laying ceremony will soon take place for the construction of a new complex of 3,300 square-meters near the Sderot train station, which will be able to accommodate about 60 companies and will include research and development laboratories alongside work areas.

SouthUp recently won a tender of the Israel Innovation Authority and the Ministry of Economy and Industry to establish an innovation center in the Western Negev in partnership with several other entities.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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