Innovation Visa Being Introduced

In a fascinating move, the Israel Innovation Authority has announced the introduction of an Innovation Visa. The visa is open to applicants around the world so that they can access the support initiatives that have been, until now, only available to resident entrepreneurs.

The visa holders would have the following benefits, among others:

1. Successful founders will have a “support entity” to provide guidance and other values such as introductions to venture capitalists, industry players and more.

2. The visa holders will also be able to apply to the early stage startup Tnufa program.

3. They can also extend out their visa in the event that they want to stay more permanently in Israel after the visa has elapsed.

As Anya Eldan, the Head of the Startup Division described to Geektime, the program will be a way for startups to “develop their businesses with the advice of some of the countries best innovators while also giving foreign entrepreneurs the chance to give back to the enterprises accommodating them.”

Record-Breaking Numbers in Israel Tourism Industry

As those who are intimately involved in Israeli politics and life like Daniel Taub will be thrilled to hear, Israel’s tourism industry is experiencing record-breaking numbers. November 2016 saw almost as much income from tourists in that one month as the annual Israel tourism marketing budget. During the first 11 months of 2016, 2,651,400 tourists came to Israel. This was an increase of 2% over the previous year.

Now, Israel is setting its sights on bringing in tourists from China and India. In August, the Ministry of tourism actually launched their first, ever, television advertising campaign in India. Their slogan was, “On most vacations, you take a trip. But in Israel, you take a journey.”

They have also focused on China because Chinese tourists spend the most money when they come to visit, with approximately $1,900 spent per tourist per visit. This is compared to $1600 on average. As Tourism Minister Yariv Levin explained,

“Our goal is to continue focusing our campaigns so as to meet the challenge of creating an ongoing increase in incoming tourism. This is proof of the tourist industry’s incredible potential and the fact that the innovative ideas that we are putting into practice have led to an immediate significant contribution to the Israeli economy.”

Aharon Aharon Running Israel’s Innovation Authority

Aharon Aharon was hired by Apple in the Israeli tech scene in 2011. He was hired to open a semiconductor development center in Israel. Now, he will be leaving Apple in the coming months to run Israel’s “Innovation Authority” which was previously the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Economy Ministry. They are in charge of the nation’s innovation policies and they work to promote the country’s technological ecosystem.

Aharon holds two degrees from the Technion and he started his career at IBM and then moved into the private sector. He was previously at Zoran Corporation and Seabridge. He also helped to establish two startups that were sold in exit deals. And, of course, he was instrumental in starting Apple’s Israel activities.

As Avi Hasson, Israel’s Chief Scientist and chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority said,

“Israel sees innovation as a valuable resource.” He explained that Aharon’s appointment is “testimony to the importance Israel gives the issue,” by appointing someone with “such great experience and ability, who can take innovation a step further.”

Aharon said in a statement,

“I give great importance to empowering the partnership of the government with the industry and aim to put the organization that I will lead at the service of the industry.”

Israeli App Gets $9 Million in Capital

Zeekit, a fashion tech startup in Israel, has just announced the close of their Series A Funding round. They will now be imbued with $9 million in new capital. The company was co-founded in 2013 by Yael Vizel, Alon Kristal and Nir Appleboim and allows users to “try on” clothing items before buying them. With their app, they use image processing technology to layer the image of the clothes over the user’s body.

The user uploads a picture of themselves and their measurements, and the app then uses those as it places the clothes on their bodies. Vizel, interestingly enough, has explained to the press that she based her creation of Zeekit off of her experience as a captain in the Air Force in Israel. She came up with the idea while using technology that turned 2D landscape images of the ground into 3D images for aircraft. The three founders are graduates of Israel’s Technion University.

Zeekit plans to reach out to retailers and others so that they can have a button on their websites where visitors can then see themselves in the clothing for sale.