It was no coincidence that Education Minister Naftali Bennett joined Zion Kenan, the president and CEO of Bank Hapoalim, in presenting the bank’s annual prize for technological innovation.
Before Bennett entered the political arena, he was a hi-tech entrepreneur himself and was the co-founder and co-owner of the encryption and network security software company Cyota, which he sold in 2005 for $145 million. He was economy minister in the previous government, where he had a lot of contact with start-up companies, and as education minister he wants Israel’s schoolchildren to be sufficiently technology savvy to be able to study computer sciences and related subjects when they reach university.
The prize was awarded to Lior Har- Shai and Yoel Angel of Peekaboo, a company established by Technion students when entering a competition at the Technion’s Rappaport School of Medicine. The Peekaboo team developed innovative technology for non-invasive collection of sterile urine samples from baby girls.
For this they won the 2015 Bank Hapoalim BizTec Entrepreneurship competition held recently at the Microsoft R&D Center in Herzliya.
But they received another prize from Bank Hapoalim in Jerusalem.
Kenan said he is proud to be able to bring together creative minds, academic expertise, and the business community.
“Just a few years ago, I was there,” Bennett told the young men, adding, “My biggest advice to Peekaboo is ‘Don’t go into politics.’” The presentation was made at the annual Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, which took place at the Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria on Wednesday.
In his address to the conference, Bennett emphasized the importance of encouraging start-ups and said that $4.5 billion had been invested in Israeli start-ups this year.
Kenan said that Bank Hapoalim had helped to support 120 successful start-ups, and that he is very happy for Bank Hapoalim to have an ongoing relationship with the Technion.
A short film was shown on digital banking and there was a display of digital banking equipment in the hotel lobby to illustrate how it is revolutionizing banking services. Bank Hapoalim, which was the first Israeli bank to introduce digital banking, is to have digital branches across the country over the next year.
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