Beer-Sheva: Israel’s Emerging High-Tech Hub
Beer-Sheva: Israel’s Emerging High-Tech Hub
December 8, 2015
Globes — Far away from the crowded startup scene of Tel Aviv, a high-tech hub has been quietly growing in Beer-Sheva. At the center of this incredible growth is the Advanced Technologies Park (ATP), in which BGU is the academic research partner.
Israeli business daily Globes recently took a closer look at some of the major players in the ATP that are turning the city into the world’s next tech juggernaut:
BGU – The Academic Component
Ben-Gurion University’s leadership role in establishing the ATP is cultivating a tech ecosystem like no other, where students can go fresh from graduation to working in their field without so much as having to move apartments.
“Our agenda is regional development,” says Netta Cohen, chief executive officer of BGN Technologies, BGU’s technology transfer company.
“The University encourages students to stay in the city. It is an important aspect, right along with creating more employment opportunities.”
Inno-Negev – The Accelerator
Led by the Bengis Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at BGU, Inno-Negev is a technology accelerator that provides a platform to local early-stage ventures and entrepreneurs using its cooperation with the University’s commercial arm: BGN Technologies, as well as its partnerships with Lockheed Martin, Deloitte and Plus Ventures, among others.
“After we spawned a number of activities through the Bengis Center, the accelerator was the natural next step for providing a solution needed by the community, by the students and by the faculty at Ben-Gurion, which is taking an interest in entrepreneurship,” says Yossi Shavit, Inno-Negev project manager and Bengis Center business consultant.
Now, more students than ever before are choosing to live and work in the Negev, and that trend shows no signs of slowing down.
CyActive – The First Exit
A success story that will inspire and motivate entrepreneurs everywhere, CyActive is a Beer-Sheva startup that after only two years was sold to PayPal for $60 million.
Even after the rapid and successful exit, PayPal surprised everyone when it announced that CyActive would remain in Beer-Sheva, and serve as the foundation for the company’s cyber center which will serve its 170 million global clients.
CyActive now employs 25 employees, 70 percent of them from Beer-Sheva and its surroundings.
EMC – The First Company
The cloud computing and data storage giant decided to run their cyber solutions operations for the entire world from Beer-Sheva long before the first building in the ATP was even completed.
“Our goal was to bring significant technological activities to EMC on a global scale and to have an impact, not to be another branch of the company,” says Maya Hofman Levy, EMC’s Beer-Sheva site leader.
More than 80 percent of their 150 employees are Negev residents; over 60 percent are Ben-Gurion University graduates.
When asked why EMC picked Beer-Sheva to open its center, Hofman Levy explains “We did it because of the opportunity. There are sustainable ties here to academia, which has proven for the past ten years that Ben-Gurion University has expertise in the cyber sector.”
JVP – The In-House Venture Capital Fund
The venture capital fund, Jerusalem Venture Partners, established a cyber security incubator, CyberLabs, in the ATP.
“The advantage of Beer-Sheva in the cyber sector is its proximity to a University that provides research opportunities that turn into startups and a steady flow of talent for the companies that work in the park,” says Yoav Tzruya, a partner and chief executive officer of JVP CyberLabs.
“I travel the world with a presentation on the Beer-Sheva ecosystem, and many people are excited by the notion that all these pieces sit in one place: the University, the talent, the investors, and the government,” Tzruya adds.
Tech7 – The Local Tech Leaders
In the summer of 2014, four young people from Beer-Sheva founded Tech7 when they realized the growing number of young entrepreneurs in Beer-Sheva would be better served if they had a network through which they could connect.
“Two years ago, as Beer-Sheva residents, we felt the shortage of lectures, events, hackathons, and meet-ups in the city,” says Tech7 Co-Founder Etai Coles.
Through the events organized by Tech7, the tech community in Beer-Sheva is rapidly gaining a synergy and a connection that very few others can boast.