How to Make Israel’s Start Up Ecosystem More Inclusive?
How to make Israel’s Start Up Ecosystem more inclusive? This was a guiding question of the 64th session of our ME 2.0 Palestinian Israeli Young Business Leaders Forum in mid of June. Forum members had the opportunity to discuss this question and other aspects of Israel’s vibrant Start Up ecosystem, among others, with Guy Hilton, General manager of Israel’s leading tech NGO, Start Up Nation Central.
Start Up Nation Central (SUNC), which can be seen as something like the GPS to the Israeli innovation ecosystem, is an independent non-
profit that builds bridges for Israeli innovation, connecting business, government, and NGO leaders from around the world with Israeli innovation, offering Israeli innovators access to high-potential and previously inaccessible markets. For discovering and connecting with the thousands of relevant Israeli innovators SUNC have created a free online platform, a StartUp finder easy to use: https://finder.startupnationcentral.org/.
In order to meet the challenge of 15,000 employees missing in technical positions, SUNC offers “Bootcapms” – special 3.5 months programs in which the teach specific tech skills, soft skills, coding, create hackathons and other activities in which they qualify new tech employees. In particular SUNC has while aiming to integrate in particular population groups like women, Ultra-Orthodox and Arabs, which are currently under-represented in the Israeli StartUp scene.
With regard to the Arab population one can see, that they still prefer the traditional professions (doctors, accountants, lawyers… etc.) and only few study computer science.They are those who do often encounter cultural barriers and lack soft skills such as networking and public speaking and English language proficiencies.
Also, our forum members had the chance to meet and discuss in mid of June with Yoram Yaacovi, former General Manager of Microsoft Israel Research & Development Center, one of the three Microsoft Global Development Centers (GDCs).The discussion with Yoram centred on the future of markets with new technologies arising fast, as well as around the question how to integrate more successfully members of the Arab population in Israel’s striving Start Up scene and how to interconnect the Israeli and Palestinian Start Up ecosystems.
According to Yoram the human capital is the most important capital available in the region – both in Israel and in Palestine. In the future, most jobs will be technological, or technology related. Every company will need tech people to assist in its operations and we must prepare accordingly. In his view, education in Palestine needs to be uplifted there is a lack in support for technological professions and a lack in right qualification for high-tech professions.
In a discussion about barriers for Arabs entering the StartUp world, members emphasized language, culture, family, supporting skills and the conflict as main barriers. Members also suggested some possible solutions such as supporting the Palestinian Internship Program, which seeks to provide internships for Palestinian graduates at Israeli high tech firms for gaining practical knowledge and experience and for hooking to the ecosystem.
Follow up sessions will discuss further solutions how to overcome the challenges above in West Bank and in Gaza.