Eitan Kyiet
Eitan Kyiet

Yes, innovation can exist outside of Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv, our famous Startup Nation capital, may be losing the luster it once had. Following a year marked by social distancing and isolation, tech companies, startups, and most importantly, employees, discovered the benefits of working from home. In fact, startup hubs all over the world emptied out due to the comfort of remote work. 

As the country begins fully opening up again following our mass vaccination campaign, many job candidates are no longer looking to suffer traffic and expenses to work in a Tel Aviv office. So with young prospective tech candidates leaving to the periphery, where should they go? 

Not just quality of life

For years the government has implemented programs attempting to incentivize young people to move outside of Israel’s center—including tax and housing benefits. But the pandemic year has proven to be a far more persuasive method of moving people to the peripheries, drawing young families searching for a house with a backyard for the same price as a two-bedroom Tel Aviv apartment with no balcony. Nefesh B’Nefesh states that some of the more affordable destinations for housing can be found in Katzrin, a town in the Golan Heights. Houses there can be found for a fifth of the price per square foot in Tel Aviv, and a fourth of the price per square foot in Jerusalem. Most of the communities outside of the center tend to be more tight-knit, and remote workers can enjoy the perks of areas without having to worry about hours-long commutes to the center of the country. Living outside of Gush Dan goes beyond just comfort—Israel’s north, specifically, holds huge potential to become a new thriving center for innovation. 

Northern tech hub

Haifa’s Technion—Israel Institute of Technology—is Israel’s biggest scientific-technological university and home to one of the world’s largest research centers. The university is known to produce some of Israel’s most promising entrepreneurs. Many of the world’s most prominent tech companies have already set up shop in Haifa, including the likes of Intel Corporation, NVIDIA, Microsoft, Apple, Dell Technologies, Qualcomm, IBM, and many more. The northern tech hub is brimming with pioneering technologies, profitable business opportunities, high investment returns, and an extensive talent pool. With the shakeup the tech ecosystem experienced in the past year and the influx of new people, innovators should look to the north as the next potential center for startups.

Diversity to drive innovation

An additional advantage of building a tech workplace up north is that it provides far more opportunity for a diverse workforce. Tel Aviv’s high-tech industry is known to lack diversity, with less women, Arabs, and Ultra-Orthodox in the workplace. A tech startup in the periphery that employs people from more diverse backgrounds could benefit from less groupthink and more differing ideas, which has proven to drive innovation. As stated by CTech, the participation of these groups in the high tech industry will have a double benefit. It will increase the number of workers from those sectors in the Israeli economy, and also serve as an infusion of new and diverse brainpower into the high tech industry. It also goes without saying that the diversification of Israel’s high tech industry will further enable it to address more effectively the needs of the ever-changing global market.

The path ahead

Despite a turbulent year of changes on a global level, Israeli startups managed to power ahead, breaking new records in funding and IPOs. The pandemic accelerated many digitization processes, and the Israeli tech sector met and exceeded the demand through the creation of even more solutions and upgrades. Looking ahead, Israeli tech will continue to develop and mature into profitable growth companies that are sustainable in the long term on the path to become unicorns. As the sector continues to flourish, it can find roots outside of the Tel-Aviv bubble. More young potential employees are setting their sights on the north for the greenery, community, and cost-of-living. As such, it is up to entrepreneurs to similarly consider the benefits presented by the north, and take advantage of the huge potential the northern tech hub has in order to build on it.

About the Author
Eitan Kyiet is the CEO of Road2, the ecosystem for entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and investors that develop startups into inspiring businesses.
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