The hi-tech and start-up community in Israel is concentrated in the Central region, but start-up competition SilicoNegevBGU aims to shine the spotlight on innovation in the South.The Meta Foundation for Development and Growth, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Tech7 – the official tech and entrepreneurship community of Beersheba and the South – have collaborated to produce the competition, which is open to technological start-ups from around the country that focus on strengthening the Negev region.Twenty start-ups out of those registered for the competition will present their ideas to investors and five will move on to the final stage. The winner of the competition will receive an investment of up to NIS 500,000 from the Meta Foundation.“The partnership between the Meta Foundation for Development and Growth and the Tech7 organization at SilicoNegevBGU promotes innovation and hi-tech initiatives in the Negev,” Gideon Shavit, from the foundation, said.“This year we joined with Ben-Gurion University in organizing the Entrepreneurship Festival, in order to further strengthen the southern innovation ecosystem. The Innovative Entrepreneurship Festival presents an opportunity for us to continue to support entrepreneurship and innovation and to increase national exposure to the progress taking place in the desert,” he said.This is the second year that Tech7 and the Meta Foundation have collaborated on the entrepreneurship initiative.Last year’s competition was won by Consis Medical, a company that is developing an innovative disposable colonoscopy device that is used for colon screening, which is expected to significantly reduce the cost of gastro-therapy and other treatments.The start-up was founded in 2016 by Oleg Popov and Raphael Moisa, co-founders and CEOs of the leading engineering company from Beersheba, IBEX Technologies.Yotam Zucker, head of the Tech7 community, said that the last few years have seen the southern hi-tech industry develop dramatically.“International hi-tech companies are opening operations in Beersheba,” he said, as Ben-Gurion University is also expanding its activities and research. As such, this year the university decided to partner in the initiative.“The University is the beating heart of the developing innovation ecosystem of the Negev. For that reason, our joint venture with the SilicoNegevBGU event, which includes the most significant start-up competition in the area, is natural,” BGU president Prof. Rivka Carmi said of the university’s involvement.“The university promotes entrepreneurship in the south through its Advanced Technologies Park – attracting international companies that raise the quality of jobs in the Negev region – as part of the vision of turning the Negev into the wellspring of innovation coming out of Israel,” she said.Registration for the competition closes on Friday; the winner will be announced at the closing event of the Entrepreneurship Festival on May 23.