Channeling High-Tech in the Holy City

 Eyal Haimovsky (photo credit: PR)
Eyal Haimovsky
(photo credit: PR)

Since its inception in 1988, the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA), a joint agency of the State of Israel, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage and the Jerusalem Municipality, has initiated, planned, and assisted in the economic development of Jerusalem. In recent years, the JDA has concentrated its efforts on cooperative efforts in hi-tech.

“One of our main activities,”says Eyal Haimovsky,” CEO of the Authority, “is utilizing the relationships that Jerusalem has with leading academic institutions in Israel that are based in the city, including Hebrew University, the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Machon Lev, and Azrieli College of Engineering and Hadassah Academic College, along with some of Israel’s leading hospitals that are located in Jerusalem, such as Shaarei Zedek Medical Center and Hadassah Medical Center. We act as a bridge between these institutions and the leading names in the local industry in biopharma and technology.”

Haimovsky explains that the Jerusalem Development Authority has been able to connect the research that is being conducted by leading academic institutions in Jerusalem and adapt it to local industry in the city. The JDA has assisted in networking and helping in the growth of companies like Mobileye, which was created by Hebrew University computer scientist Amnon Shashua, and Lightricks, a mobile app company started by five students from Hebrew University that today has grown to more than 400 employees.

The Jerusalem Development Authority assists high-tech companies in the city, providing grants to companies that are given to students, and has created accelerators at a number of academic institutions in the city, in partnership with leading companies in the industry. “In this way,” says Haimovsky, “a student will come to Jerusalem to study, find work in the hi-tech industry here, and will end up living in the city.”

Recently, says Haimovsky, the JDA initiated a video gaming incubator, utilizing connections between the Hebrew University Department of Computer Science and the Design Department at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design that is working with some of the leading game creation companies in the world. “We predict that Jerusalem will become one of the leading centers in the world for game creation within the next five years,” he says.

The Jerusalem Development Authority has also been active in the field of biotechnology and has created biotechnology laboratories at Hadassah Medical Center and at Givat Ram that can be used by Jerusalem biotech startups. “This way, startups won’t have to invest the money in new labs. They can come to Jerusalem and eventually remain in Jerusalem,” says Haimovsky. The JDA also revitalized the old Teva plant that had closed in Jerusalem, placing new biotech companies in the old Teva building. In recent years, says Haimovsky, the Jerusalem Development Authority has invested tens of millions of shekels in high-tech companies in the city. The most notable example cited by Haimovsky is that of Mobileye, which received NIS 350 million ten years ago, and now has 4,000 workers. The sale of Mobileye to Intel in 2017 netted NIS 1 billion in tax revenue to the state.

Haimovsky notes that the Jerusalem Development Authority is active in promoting employment in hi-tech within the Haredi and Arab sectors. The JDA created BizMax, an accelerator that assists Haredi men in internet business development, and has developed a training program for Haredi women who want to enter the business world. 

The JDA will soon be opening an accelerator in East Jerusalem for members of the Arab community that will join hi-tech with workers in that section of the city. “It will be a type of hub,” says Haimovsky. “Companies will hire workers from the Arab sector in East Jerusalem, and they will set up branches there.” The Authority has also been active in social programs and supports PICO Kids, a Jerusalem-based organization that provides programs in STEM education and robotics to primary school children, helping to get them interested in high-tech at a young age. 

Haimovsky added that the JDA provides significant support to both the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School and the Ma’aleh School of Television, Film & Arts. It has also created an animation and film incubator at the Cinematek in Jerusalem. The numerous video projects have attracted the attention of the world’s foremost video production houses, including Sony, Netflix, HBO and Mattel. 

The vision of the Jerusalem Development Authority is to promote Jerusalem as a leading international city in the economic sector and in the quality of life in the public domain. The projects cited here, and the organization’s other activities, are helping the city realize that vision. 

This article is taken from The Jerusalem Post Israel Technology and Innovation Magazine 2022. To read the entire magazine, click here.

This article was written in cooperation with The Jerusalem Development Authority