Mellanox, JVP partner to develop Haifa into new tech hub

On Monday, the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) announced that the ILAB Group had won a competitive tender to develop technological innovation in the city.

Haifa bay (photo credit: URIA ASHKENAZY/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Haifa bay
(photo credit: URIA ASHKENAZY/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
A partnership of leading Israeli companies and organizations will work together to turn Haifa into an emerging hi-tech hub, boosting the innovation ecosystem in northern Israel.
On Monday, the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) announced that the ILAB Group had won a competitive tender to develop technological innovation in the city.
The group includes connectivity giant Mellanox, venture capital fund Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), and nonprofit organizations Mati Haifa and Israel Initiative 2020.
The IIA will provide an NIS 25 million ($7.2m.) grant over four years, which will be matched by the partners for a total investment of NIS 50m. ($14.4m.).
The group, founded by Mati Haifa CEO Eran Alfonte, will focus its efforts in the downtown area of the city, promoting innovation in the fields of digital health, energy, environment, industry 4.0 and smart mobility.
To strengthen the city’s entrepreneurial community, the group will establish dedicated workspaces and acceleration programs to support 150 start-ups. An innovation center for start-ups, including innovation labs, will be set up in the downtown area, the group said.
“Mellanox Technologies started 20 years ago as a start-up company and still maintains that spirit,” said Eyal Waldman, CEO and founder of Mellanox, which was acquired earlier this year by Nvidia in a $6.9 billion deal.
“We appreciate the vision, courage and entrepreneurial spirit that underpins technology ventures in their early stages. We believe that through ILAB, Mellanox will help realize Haifa and Northern Israel’s technological potential by contributing from its experience as a start-up and through its extensive global network.”
While the northern city is home to the renowned Technion–Israel Institute of Technology and the University of Haifa, young hi-tech graduates often seek employment opportunities in Tel Aviv rather than remaining in the city.
The potential of Haifa as a tech hub has been demonstrated by the large R&D presence already established by multinational corporations in the city, representing approximately one-quarter of all foreign R&D expenditure nationwide.
The group will also aim to embrace Haifa’s diverse human capital, where almost one-quarter of inhabitants are Arab-Israelis.
“Haifa is not only the capital of the North but also the first city from which Israeli hi-tech emerged. We will bring Haifa back to the forefront of the global hi-tech scene and position the city as one of Israel’s innovation capitals,” said JVP founder and chairman Dr. Erel Margalit.
“The connection between JVP, Mellanox, Mati Haifa, and academic institutions such as the Technion and the University of Haifa, will not only bring investment and start-ups to Haifa, but also breathe life into downtown Haifa and make it a place that young people not only want to work in but stay and create the next big thing. We are proud to be the first venture capital fund to launch investment activities in Haifa.”