Accelerate Israel calls visionaries to submit solutions for post-COVID age

It might be a better idea to plan for a future world that will be different than the one before the pandemic.

Elior Bar (photo credit: Courtesy)
Elior Bar
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Accelerate Israel is seeking innovative solutions to make post COVID-19 Israel, “the best country in the world to live in,” Elior Bar, executive director of the Or Movement and Medina L'Mofet, told The Jerusalem Post.
Created by the Or Foundation, the new initiative, which is Medina L'Mofet in Hebrew, grew from an earlier project called “Israel 2048” which was geared up to ensure that the country is ready for the challenges of the future.  
“What we understood in April when COVID-19 struck,” entrepreneur Yisrael Dancziger told the Post, “is that everybody is working towards a return to normalcy,” meaning the pre-COVID-19 world.
It might be a better idea to plan for a future world that will be different than the one before the pandemic.
“The novel coronavirus also accelerated things we’ve been talking about for years, like the need to fight air pollution or to innovate education,” the former director-general of the Environmental Ministry pointed out.
As large numbers of people began working from home or needed to obey lockdown health regulations, air pollution dropped.
“People also began to realize they can get medical help using digital means and not just at the ER,” he added. Dancziger is founder and former CEO of Digital Fuel Technologies.  
In “Israel 2048” the foundation mapped to see where the Israeli “clusters” might be – regional concentrations of related industries.
“The only cluster we have right now is classic hi-tech in the Tel Aviv region,” Bar explained. “We noted that other clusters are also possible: Kiryat Shmona has the potential to become a Food-tech cluster, Ofakim is able to be an Ag-Tech cluster. In such clusters, there are two jobs created for each job within the theme the cluster is best suited for, as those who work in the sector require services.”
IN ACCELERATE Israel, innovative talents are called upon to submit their proposals to tackle a specific issue during what the foundation calls a “sprint.” Currently, the issue is employment. Roughly one hundred start-ups ideas that could ensure post-COVID Israel would be able to “lift the barriers” blocking employment have already been sent.
“There are personal, local and state-level barriers,” Bar explained, “we want each person to be the CEO of his or her own life, to show how Israel can use its potential for clusters to compete in the global market, and create options for people to work from home no matter where they live in the country.”
An Israeli who lives in the Negev has a 400% more likelihood to suffer from power shortages when compared to an Israeli living in Tel Aviv, TheMarker reported on Monday. In the West-Bank city of Elkana, residents had to buy Uninterruptible Power Supply systems as backup to save their home appliances from getting "fried" with each power break. Unreliable power means Zoom meetings abruptly end, and electric cars can't finish their planned route if their overnight charging was disrupted.    
Those with good ideas will be given $250,000 in seed money, mentoring hours with such noted people as Prof. Dan Ariely and Facebook general manager Adi Soffer Teeni, as well as a foot in the door to ensure their ideas can be used on a local or even national level.  
“The government knows it failed to offer people training programs to return to work,” founder and managing partner of Aleph Michael Eisenberg told the Post. “We’re building systems that will help entrepreneurs to create employment.”  
“Clusters,” he suggested, “are enabled, not imposed.”
FOR DANCZIGER, one innovative solution that should be examined is sophisticated matchmaking between those seeking work and the current or future needs of the market.
Up until now the state offered, and even pushed people, into training in professions like welding – at times even stopping unemployment benefits until people would accept such training or work.
But what if an AI solution could be found to connect people with a natural inclination towards something to a future employer and a suitable training option?
For example, an AI that would be able to collect data from people’s online activity and suggest to them something they might enjoy doing, much like Amazon can offer a future purchase based on a user’s profile.
“This could help all those out of work professionals in the tourist industry,” he pointed out.  
Digitization can also help make certain skills much more accessible via gaming, he suggested.
Maliyo Games released Hello Nurse in Ghana to help users gain knowledge about malaria and Mosquito Hood in Kenya. Those who passed all the levels of that game got a free mosquito's net from the Kenyan government. Ugandan game developer Daniel Okalany created ZWord, a game that combines defeating zombies with learning how to spell, eLearning Industry reported in 2018. Why can't ultra-Orthodox (haredi) Israeli kids learn English or math using similar means?  
“Education would be the next thing we tackle in our sprint,” Bar said. She stressed that they are happy to accept ideas from all groups that compose Israeli society, from haredi Jews to immigrants and Arab-Israelis.  
Interested parties can submit their innovative projects here: www.israelmofet.org.il/join