Out of the Bubble
We didn't wait for budgets or government decisions - the initiative in the Kinneret started from the ground up
Speaking as part of CTech’s Out of the Bubble series, Elad Shamir, CEO of the Kinneret Innovation Center, discusses the benefits and challenges of operating in Israel’s periphery
Israel’s high-tech scene might be known by most as operating mainly in Tel Aviv, but there are a number of growing hubs that find themselves at the forefront of specific industry hotspots. The Kinneret is one of those spots in the country that finds itself in the middle of innovation for the agritech, watertech, and sustainability sectors.
"It is important to note that the initiative that you see here is entirely grass roots, meaning an investment of the main players in the region who decided to take responsibility without waiting for the government or authorities," said Elad Shamir, CEO of the Kinneret Innovation Center. "All of the partners had the courage to remove barriers and create a joint society with wide interests that represents a wide national strategy. The goal is to create a national growth engine based on tech and knowledge based companies that will change the future of the north."
Shamir noted that: "In the next stages we will surely want to bring in big strategic partners, including expanded partnerships with the country and the government to benefit this massive national project. The country needs to go out into the field and identify initiatives that are growing in different regions and push them forward rather than trying to reinvent the wheel and expecting changes to happen by remote control and by funneling money into centers that aren't connected to what is happening in the field.
"We have succeeded in raising NIS 100 million to date for the project and the companies we are accompanying have raised some $50 million. This fortune changes the region and it is only the beginning. We have been operating for only three years and we already have an innovation academy, accelerator, incubator, a department for innovation in industry, an international department, a hub, a science and innovation park under construction and an investment fund that will be launched in the coming months."
The Kinneret Innovation Center operates in the Jordan Valley region as a hub to help startups with their growth or to advance technology in the sector. Shamir describes the region and its manpower as “much calmer” than traditional hubs, and yet the potential is all the same.
“From the angle of researchers, VCs, and startups, you can’t grow agritech, watertech, or sustainability in Tel Aviv - it doesn’t work,” explained Shamir. “You have to be close to the farmers, close to the factories, and part of the ecosystem.
“If you are an amazing developer here or an amazing entrepreneur, you had three choices until the last few years,” he concluded. “Either you drove hours, you moved, or you picked another type of work. Now, there's another option: do it here, do it fast, be very close to the market, and achieve your dreams right here.”
You can watch the entire exchange in the video above.