On-Campus Entrepreneurship Takes Off in Israel

Translated by Nina Fink, Nathalie Hamou
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Des étudiants sur le campus de l'Institut Technion
10,000 people have now taken the technological entrepreneurship course of Technion Israel Institute of Technology. // ©  Institut Technion
From a technological entrepreneurship course to new business accelerators and strengthened relationships with local communities, Israeli universities are competing to attract the founders of tomorrow's top startups. EducPros shares a sneak peek in preparation for its May 22-27 Learning Expedition to Israel.

Prestigious Israeli researcher Dan Shechtman is not only known for winning the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of quasicrystals some 30 years ago. In 1986, he created his pet project, a technological entrepreneurship course at the Technion.

"People call Israel the Start-up Nation because of the country's record 4,000 startups. Yet this course seemed futuristic 30 years ago", explains the now-retired 75-year-old. The course features guest speakers ranging from Israeli entrepreneurs to legal and venture capital experts. 600 students signed up the first year and 10,000 people have now taken the course, making it one of the Technion's most popular offerings.

Acceleration Nation

The Technion is not the only Israeli university to attract entrepreneurs through innovation. Israeli accelerators are on the rise. The pioneer was Tel Aviv's Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, which launched its Zell Entrepreneurship Program 15 years ago.

Every year, Zell offers roughly 20 students, selected from among hundreds of applicants, both entrepreneurial studies and accelerator services. Net heavyweights such as Google, eBay and Conduit have invested over $120 million to purchase Zell student startups. One such example is the personalized widget developer LabPixies, which Google acquired in 2010 for $25 million.

Race up the Rankings

Given Israel's expertise, it is no surprise that the nation's universities have fared well in startup rankings. The University of Tel Aviv placed 9th in the 2015 PitchBook report on the top 50 universities producing venture capital-backed entrepreneurs, making it the only non-American university in the top ten.

According to the report, the University of Tel Aviv graduated 250 entrepreneurs who founded 204 startups and raised $1.75 billion in capital over the last five years. The Technion ranked 20th in the report and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem ranked 39th. These accomplishments are all the more impressive since Israeli schools have far fewer resources than their U.S. counterparts.

Read the article (in French)

Translated by Nina Fink, Nathalie Hamou | Publié le