Computer keyboard [illustrative]..
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
As of Wednesday, start-up entrepreneurs will have a place to flex their political muscle in the legislature.
That’s the promise that MKs Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) and Yoav Kish (Likud) made when announcing a new lobby for start-ups in the Knesset, which they will chair.
Knesset lobbies function like caucus groups in other countries, banding together a group of lawmakers around a particular cause. While the Knesset has a long-standing lobby for the hi-tech industry in Israel, currently chaired by MK Robert Ilatov, that group focuses on the needs of big hi-tech companies and multi-national corporations.
Small, scrappy start-ups being run by a couple of army buddies, on the other hand, have a different set of needs altogether, according to Gal Kalkshtein, an algorithmic trader who now runs an investment group for start-ups called GKI and will serve as CEO of the lobby.
“In Israel today, there is no coherent and organized government policy. The state supports entrepreneurs, but not methodically and consistently enough,” said Kalkshtein, adding that it was slowly catching up to places such as Ireland and Singapore. The periphery of the country, he continued, was far behind.
The lobby will support education policies aimed at boosting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning, and keep regulations from becoming overbearing.
Meanwhile, the Economy Ministry’s Office of the Chief Scientist, which provides research grants that many start-ups use to get through their initial research and development phase, is undergoing a transformation.
In January, it will become the National Authority for Technology and Innovation, and hopes to expand its reach and management for the hundreds of companies that it deals with each year.