CET to open incubator in the Negev
$10 million educational center will fund innovators, funnel hi-tech into classrooms.
Incubator site in Yeroham Photo: Courtesy
The Center for Educational Technology (CET) is on the cusp of establishing an
incubator in the Negev to host startups and innovators involved in developing
educational technologies, for the purpose of ensuring that Israel’s
entrepreneurial inventions are making their way to the country’s
The organization will be investing a total of $10 million,
mostly from private donors, over the next five years to launch and operate an
incubation center out of Yeroham that is set to open this June.
bringing in local startup companies and entrepreneurs, CET hopes to develop
technological models that meld well with the educational system, and “leverage
hi-tech know-how and capabilities for the development of innovative educational
“While Israel has acquired a reputation as a global
hi-tech superpower, it is necessary to invest in education to close the gap
between our technological capabilities and their implementation in the education
[system],” said Gila Ben- Har, CEO of CET, in a statement released by her
“The establishment of the first technological-educational
incubator in Israel seeks to create an optimal affinity between creative and
entrepreneurial startups and the educational system, so as to position Israel in
the forefront of innovative technological education.”
To Ben-Har, it was
a natural decision to build the incubator in Yeroham – to spur settlement and
job creation in the Negev.
“The opening of the CET incubator in Yeroham
is wonderful news for the city and a major advance for the citizens,” agreed
Michael Biton, mayor of Yeroham. “The opening relies on Yeroham having the human
capital necessary to run the center, and the conviction to start Zionist
momentum in the Negev. The hi-tech industry has shown it is capable of
overcoming borders and physical distance.”
The incubator will contain
three components – the Garage, where developers can explore solutions to
educational challenges; the Aquarium, which will be the first research center on
education and technology; and the Lab, which will serve as a liaison between the
incubator and classrooms at selected schools.
At the head of the
incubator will be Avi Warshavsky, head of humanities and social studies at CET
and one of the entrepreneurs behind the KOTAR digital book
“Part of our mission is bringing ideas, tools and ways of
learning from other disciplines in cultural and social fields,” Warshavsky told
The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
By offering innovators access to advice,
financing and a network of educators and researchers, Warshavsy hopes to attract
Already, he has about 12 applications for five spots
in the first-year program, and hopes that the preliminary set will begin working
on their projects at the Garage in November.
The laboratory is
essentially a network of about 10 schools – middle and high schools – around the
country that will serve as “beta sites for testing ideas” as well as a “source
of ideas for the entrepreneurs,” who will have the opportunity to visit the
schools and gain firsthand knowledge of the technological problems and
challenges they face, according to Warshavsky.
“We see educators as very
important players in this role – in the same way as developers,” he
An example of a potential project that one entrepreneur has
suggested is creating a learning management system that is intertwined with
social media – a tool that would help determine what elements teachers measure
to assess student progress, and with what components.
“This kind of
project has big potential because one thing that happens when we use technology
in education is that we are becoming too accurate in the way we are measuring,
and sometimes we are measuring the wrong thing,” Warshavsky
Establishing such an incubator will allow educational methods to
escape archaic patterns and create new pathways in teaching, he
“Technology as we see it is some kind of amplifier of the old
ways,” he said, noting that blackboards have simply become smart-boards and
textbooks have become e-textbooks.
“But if you compare this to other
fields, for example to a graphic designer, his entire profession has been
changed crucially in the past 20 years.”
Figuring out ways to better
employ innovation in classrooms will enable educators and innovators to work
together, to reduce the rift in technology that currently exists between home
and school, according to Warshavsky.
“We should do something to narrow
this huge gap,” he said.