The past few months in Israel have been filled with the sound of hopeful singers belting out their best renditions of new and classic pop songs. The reason of course was the inaugural season of The X Factor Israel – the local version of the immensely popular singing contest.

Here in Israel, the big story was the diminutive winner of the contest, Filipina caregiver Rose Fostanes, who wowed Israeli audiences with her powerful renditions of classic songs such as Frank Sinatra’s My Way.

The show was an example of one of the universal qualities that allow Israelis to look past all of the noise, problems, and general balagan of this country and to unite around pure, unadulterated talent. Rose is just the last in a recent string of atypical winners and stars of Israeli reality talent-competitions ranging from The Voice to Master Chef and a few others in-between. Talent contests level the playing field like almost nothing else here.

I imagine that it comes down to the competitive and ambitious culture that has developed here, which is in itself one of the driving factors behind Israel’s famous tech industry. As the coming Winter Olympics in Sochi will surely demonstrate, the Jewish state can’t compete in every forum, but when it comes to talent, drive, intellect, and innovation, Israelis thrive in the spotlight and flock to contests where those attributes are appreciated.

It should come as no surprise then that Israeli start-ups have flocked to tech competitions across the world. TechCrunch Disrupt is a perfect example, with a number of Israeli winners including Soluto, which was the first ever winner of that contest.

Photo credit: CC-BY Robert Scoble, Flickr

Photo credit: CC-BY Robert Scoble, Flickr

What has been missing up to now, however, is a top-tier local startup contest for Israeli tech entrepreneurs. Fortunately, the answer may have come along and this time the judges will be looking for the W Factor, as in wow factor.

IATI, a local umbrella organization for the Israeli tech industry, is getting ready to hold the first-ever MIXiii conference in May. MIXiii was created by the marriage of Israel’s two leading conferences: the IATI Tech Conference, and the Israel Biomed Conference. This year, the two conferences have been fused into one and IATI is upping the ante by holding two simultaneous contests for both tech and biomed start-ups connected under the banner of looking for companies with “the wow factor.”

MIXiii looks like it could be the most significant industry event in the country, and local start-ups will be hard pressed to find a better opportunity to demo their tech and services in front of the most important players in the industry. Of course, this will also represent a golden opportunity for Israelis of all stripes to indulge their competitive instincts and take part or witness what is sure to be a tough contest.

The two events just opened their registration to start-ups recently and interested tech or biomed companies can sign up if they think they have what it takes to compete. While it remains to be seen who will emerge as the winner of the contests, what we can all be sure of is that Israel will never stop looking for the next best thing.

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