Elaborations by Yotam Tzuker, Tech7 Community
3-Sentence Pitch on the local Startup Ecosystem
The local ecosystem of Be’er Sheva has a strong culture of collaboration because the people have the pioneer inspiration about flourishing the Negev region. In addition, the local ecosystem has all important ingredients for success: strong academia, international companies, supportive municipality, young generation, technological IDF units, and of course a great tech community.
Sectoral Focus of the Startup Ecosystem
Be’er Sheva has been known as the cybersecurity center of Israel and beyond. In Be’er Sheva you can find JVP cyber labs, the R&D of Deutsche Telekom, EMC, Leidos, and the National Cyber Bureau.
Local Financing Landscape/Presence of VCs
The Be’er Sheva ecosystem still has more startups than financial support. However, one of the most powerful VCs in Israel, Jerusalem Venture Partners, located in Be’er Sheva.
Presence and Industrial Focus of Established Industries
In Be’er Sheva we have a variety of international and leading Israeli companies, of which the majority has decided to open their R&D in Be’er Sheva because of the proximity to Ben Gurion University. One can find leading Israeli companies such as WIX, RAD, AudioCodes etc. as well as big international companies such as Dell, Leidos, Oracle, AllScripts, Deutsche Telekom and PayPal in the Be’er Sheva Hitech Park.
The biggest success of a local startup cooperating with leading international companies was the exit story of CyActive, one of the JVP startups who sold to PayPal with an exit of about 80 million dollars. The leaders of CyActive decided to stay in Be’er Sheva and to have the R&D of PayPal in Be’er Sheva and nowadays to help local startups to flourish as they did only a few years ago.
Presence of Incubators/Accelerators
Be’er Sheva has two main incubators supported by the government: JVP Cyber Labs – which is mainly focused on cybersecurity – and Incubit – which is an Elbit incubator and focused on a variety of technologies. In addition, Be’er Sheva has some accelerators to help young startups in the first steps of the entrepreneurship world. The leading accelerator is Inno-Negev, Ben-Gurion University Accelerator, which gives the students and the alumni a chance entrepreneurship. We have also the Base Camp accelerator that focuses on homeland security technologies. Inside the university, you can find great students initiatives, like Starter Class, who teaches the students the most important lesson about entrepreneurship.
Presence of Research Institutes and Universities
The Ben Gurion University is one of the leading universities in Israel, specializing in the field of engineering. Every year about 8000 engineers graduate in Be’er Sheva, which is one of the reasons that makes Be’er Sheva so attractive. The Ben Gurion University is not only in close proximity to the Hitech Park but also deeply involved in the establishment of the park as well as in many initiatives inside the Hitech Park. The Ben Gurion University is part of the CDI – Center of Digital innovation – which is able to address challenges from all angles with real-time guidance from the end users by converging academia, government and industry from Israel and around the world. Furthermore, the Ben Gurion University purchased offices in the local WeWork and let students work on their startup in their first stages in the offices for free.
In addition, EMC2-RSA, Jerusalem Venture Partners JVP, Lockheed Martin, and BGN Technologies, the University’s technology transfer company, created the CyberSpark Industry Initiative, a non-profit organization that will engage in the international promotion of the Beer-Sheva cyber hub and works to shape the next generation of cybersecurity experts in the region. The CyberSpark Industry Initiative has become the central coordinating body for joint cyber industry activities with government agencies, the IDF, the public and academia. The Initiative is formulating a multi-year business plan, leveraging the region’s significant strengths and maximizing its potential in the field of cybersecurity technology.
The Tech7 community, the tech community of Be’er Sheva, is leading one of the biggest contest of it’s kind – a startup competition named SilicoNegev. This is the chance of startups from all over the Negev region to win an investments of up to 500,000 NIS. The contest is a big event of a 4-month competition collaborating with all the leading focal points in the region such as the Be’er Sheva municipality, Negev and Galilee development ministry, Poalim Hi-tech, Luzzatto group, CDI, PayPal, IBM, Taboola, Web Baker and more.