Jerusalem’s hi-tech industry has long played second fiddle to those of Tel Aviv, Haifa and Herzliya, but if current events are any indication, it is transforming its reputation.

The city played host this week to its first Start-up Weekend, part of a global initiative that challenges young entrepreneurs to form a start-up within 54 hours. More than 100 cities have hosted Start-up Weekends in the past three years, including Tel Aviv (twice), Haifa and Petah Tikva.

Jerusalem was chosen to host this week’s event out of recognition that potential Israeli entrepreneurs come not only from greater Tel Aviv but from anywhere with good universities and colleges, Moran Bar, founder of Hebrew-language tech blog Newsgeek and a driving force behind the Israeli Start-up Weekends, told The Jerusalem Post Thursday.

“Entrepreneurship exists all around Israel,” she said. “All you need to do is take [potential entrepreneurs] out of their chairs and give them the right atmosphere and the right place for them to display their creativity.”

Bar said the 150 entrepreneurs who participated in the Jerusalem event came from both secular and religious backgrounds, and there was even one from Ramallah.

The Jerusalem Start-up Weekend began Wednesday at the Jerusalem Venture Partners Media Quarter and will conclude on Friday.

At the start, the participants selected 10 ideas from more than 60 pitches. Later, they divided into teams and developed the ideas. On Friday, the teams will present their ideas to a panel of judges, and one will be selected to represent Israel at an international Start-up Weekend.

Inbal Ziv is one of the participants whose proposal was short-listed. She and her business partner formulated an idea to create a social and professional network for potential start-up partners. Teamz, as they have labeled their network, is “like a combination of Facebook, LinkedIn and JDate,” Ziv told the Post.

“When you are looking for a partner to found a start-up with, and to be someone who shares your vision,” she said, “you are looking for someone who on the one hand is professional enough, but on the other hand who you can really relate to on a personal level and can trust.”

Ziv, who is a native Jerusalemite and a Hebrew University student, co-founded the SifTech Jerusalem Entrepreneurship Center earlier this year with the aim of promoting business initiatives in the capital and making the city more of a focal point for entrepreneurs and start-ups.

“I see with my own eyes that Jerusalem is becoming more of a center for entrepreneurship and that more ideas are coming out of Jerusalem,” she said. “There are 40,000 students here at any given time... There are a lot of young people here now, and I think there is an understanding that in order to develop Jerusalem, you need to develop its economy. In order to develop its economy, you need the young people – you need the young minds, their energy and their creativity.”

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