Intel launches program to 'ignite' Israeli hi-tech cooperation

Aiming to advance open innovation, Intel is targeting companies developing solutions in fields including artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and other data-centric technologies.

June 17, 2019 04:36
3 minute read.
Tzahi (Zack) Weisfeld, Avner Goren, Intel CEO Bob Swan and Intel Israel general manager Yaniv Garty

From left: Tzahi (Zack) Weisfeld, Avner Goren, Intel CEO Bob Swan and Intel Israel general manager Yaniv Garty. (photo credit: EZRA LEVY)


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American technology giant Intel Corp. announced on Sunday the establishment of a new Tel Aviv-based accelerator program for early-stage Israeli start-ups.

Aiming to advance open innovation, Intel is targeting companies developing solutions in fields such as artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and other data-centric technologies.

The program, called Ignite, will select 10 to 15 pre-seed to seed-stage start-ups to participate in a 20-week program, with Intel and industry experts mentoring entrepreneurs on product, business, management and technical development.

“This program is about how we continue to stimulate ecosystems here in Israel and around the globe by giving opportunities and the chance to bring the size and scale of Intel to the ideas and dreams of entrepreneurs,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan, launching the program at Jaffa’s Peres Center for Peace and Innovation.

“We always look at technologies that we think can enhance the role we play in the success of our customers,” Swan said, marking his first visit to Israel since assuming the permanent role of CEO in January.

Ignite will commence operations later this year, with the Santa Clara-headquartered company planning to subsequently expand the program to additional countries.

Intel intends to make diversity a key feature of the program, seeking start-ups emerging from different sectors of Israel’s broad society.

Intel will not initially seek equity or intellectual property rights from selected companies, but could invest at a later date should their collaboration prove successful.

“The role of Intel in Israel has been a significant contributor to the company’s overall performance for the last 45 years,” said Swan.

“Ignite is just one more way to engage with the entrepreneurial ecosystem here, and in some small way to contribute to its acceleration in a variety of technologies that are good for business and social welfare.”

Swan will visit Intel’s Kiryat Gat manufacturing facility on Monday, which is accelerating the production of the company’s 10-nanometer process technology.

Former global head of Microsoft for start-ups, Tzahi “Zack” Weisfeld, will serve as general manager and managing director of Ignite, reporting to Intel Israel general manager Yaniv Garty.

Intel Architecture, Graphics and Software Group vice president Avner Goren will connect Ignite to the company’s technical community.

“The better companies that we will have on this journey, the better it will be for us in streamlining our joint work,” said Garty.

“For the start-ups, they will gain access to more than 100,000 people working on the most advanced technologies in these fields. That’s the combination that will drive us forward.”

Intel employs nearly 13,000 workers in Israel, exporting products worth $3.9 billion in 2018 and procuring local materials and services worth $1.7b., primarily from peripheral areas.

In January, Intel announced plans to invest approximately $10.9b. in the company’s Israel-based operations to construct a vast production facility in the southern city of Kiryat Gat. The 370,000 sq.m. expansion is expected to add 1,000 new employees to Intel’s existing workforce.

Intel’s decades-long and multi-billion dollar collaboration with Israel will be estimated to be worth approximately $50b. once the latest investment is finalized. Intel will receive a grant of about $1b. from the Israeli government for its investment plan.

In August 2017, Intel purchased Jerusalem-based vision technology company Mobileye for a record $15.3b., the largest sale or “exit” of an Israeli company to date.

“We said that we would expand our manufacturing facilities in the US, Israel and Ireland. That is our intention, and we filed the business plan back in January,” said Swan.

“Our intentions are to expand our capacity and our facilities in those three particular markets over time, so we never constrain the growth of our customers.”

The Economy Ministry said in January that the US technology giant has agreed to purchase over $4b. of Israeli products and services over the next six years.

The agreement follows conditions attached to a NIS 700 million ($190m.) grant announced by the government in December in return for a $5b. expansion of its Kiryat Gat operations.

Intel and the Economy Ministry’s Industrial Cooperation Authority are expected to enter into a further round of reciprocal purchase negotiations once the company’s latest expansion plans are confirmed.

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