US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaks at the inaugural Nazareth Hi-Tech Investor Conference, December 11, 2018.
(photo credit: MATTY STERN/US EMBASSY JERUSALEM)
Thirty emerging Arab-led start-ups sought to impress dozens of Israeli and American investors on Tuesday as they pitched their innovative solutions at the inaugural Nazareth Hi-Tech Investor Conference.
The conference, co-sponsored by the US Embassy in Israel and the Social Equality Ministry, aimed to shine a spotlight on Nazareth’s vibrant hi-tech ecosystem. It also highlighted the need to advance integration of the Arab community into Israeli hi-tech society in order to promote economic growth and a more inclusive society.
While Arab-Israeli citizens represent more than 20% of the country’s population, they represent just 8% of Israel’s GDP and only 3% of the Israeli hi-tech workforce.
“In the long term, peace in this region depends on the economic development and cooperation of people like you – Arabs, Jews, secular, religious, Israelis and Palestinians,” United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told the conference’s audience of innovators and investors.
“The more we work together, the more we strengthen the foundation for a lasting peace in a land that has longed for such peace for far too long.”
The conference was borne out of Friedman’s April visit to the Nazareth Business Incubator Center and Nazareth Industrial Park, where he learned of the unique challenges facing Arab-led start-ups in attracting investment.
Among the start-ups that pitched their solutions at the event were MindoLife, a sophisticated software platform enabling secure development and rollout of robust Internet-of-things solutions; Healthymize, an artificial intelligence-based voice monitoring platform for voice-affecting diseases; Senso Medical Labs, a manufacturer of implantable medical devices in the field of neurotechnology; and Cooknet, a cutting-edge, Arabic-language food delivery service.
“The economic integration of all sectors of society is an important strategic element of our national strength,” said Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel.
“Integrating Arab society into the vision of the Start-Up Nation is an important objective, and we are investing great efforts in doing so.”
Gamliel said the government would invest approximately NIS 75 million in industrial areas located in minority communities, including NIS 21m. in the Nazareth hi-tech park.
The investment marks a 150% increase from the original budget of NIS 30m. agreed to in 2016 for developing minority community industries, following an agreement signed earlier this week by the Social Equality, Economy and Finance ministries.
“Support for entrepreneurs from the Arab sector is vital for economic and social development and further facilitates the creation of jobs in the periphery,” said Israel Innovation Authority CEO Aharon Aharon.
“This dedicated program, intended to encourage more research and development within the Arab community, helps promote innovative technological initiatives and helps them recruit funds from private investors.”
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