vision

To change the face of Sha’ar HaNegev (Gaza Envelope) society, strengthen its population, and reduce the distance from the periphery to the center of the country in all life areas.
Goals:

  • Establish a space for innovation including a hi-tech park with an educational space at its center.
  • This space will constitute a growth engine for jobs, economic and educational advancement, and serve an extensive portion of the population in the periphery.
  • All operating revenues from the innovative space will return to the population of Sha’ar HaNegev and the Gaza Envelope, and assist in narrowing the gaps between the country’s center and periphery.

Background

For dozens of years the kibbutzim of Sha’ar HaNegev (a Regional Council in the Gaza Envelope) have experienced growth, this despite the ongoing security crisis. New families along with native born kibbutzniks have begun re-populating the kibbutzim after completing their academic studies, seeking a social and economic change in the modern kibbutz of the 21st century.

The return to the routine after Operation Protective Edge was a traumatic one. The general feeling was that the state of war had not ended, but rather stopped in an arbitrary manner, the same way it began. Moreover, the idea of terrorist tunnels was only a rumor until the outbreak of that military operation. Now these tunnels have become a key element in the sense of danger that remains in the country in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge.

To deal with this situation, inhabitants faced two alternatives in dealing with the situation:

1. Complain over their fate and grow weaker.

2. Roll up their sleeves, produce and grow stronger

SouthUp is the materialization of the second alternative, of production and strength. It is an alternative that strengthens and firms up all levels of the population.

Educators and hi-tech professionals from the region together with businesspeople from San Diego initiated the establishment of the SouthUp nonprofit organization. The aim and vision was to build a technology incubator that brings the world of innovation to Sha’ar HaNegev and strengthens local inhabitants at all levels – in terms of employment, education, and the local economy.

SouthUp has already established two technology incubators in the region, one in Sha’ar HaNegev and the other on Kibbutz Nir Am. The central goal its founders set themselves: to bring the world of innovation to Sha’ar HaNegev and infuse vigor and inspiration into a variety of life areas.

During the course of a year and a half, we’ve succeeded in bringing 16 startups to the Gaza Envelope—with assistance of the Israel Innovation Authority, which awards preferential conditions for such companies, thus enabling them to join incubators in the region.

Following establishment of the incubators, three task forces were set up – an economic task force, social task force and educational task force.

The economic
task force

defined the nature of the companies we’d like to see in the incubator. One of their key criteria for such companies is feasibility for growth and for remaining in the region for at least five years. A second criteria is the ability to enlarge the circle of employees from the Sha’ar HaNegev region, and a third is the possibility to integrate projects and entrepreneurs with the local education system.

The social
task force

examined the region’s cultural and social needs. The task force presented options for integrating the companies’ employees into local society in terms of residence, education, and culture.

The educational
task force

sought ways to connect between the ever-developing world of technology and the region’s educational space, combining humanistic values and contemporary technological development.

Currently we are in the midst of accelerated growth stages and are preparing additional buildings to serve the incubator. We’re working to establish a new school that matches our values and is in line with 21st century technology and culture. With the help of investors from the San Diego community we’re in the process of establishing the SouthUp Impact Investment Fund—a venture capital fund for investing in startups. Since the Fund will invest solely in projects that have been awarded grants from the Israel Innovation Authority, it presents a unique investment opportunity in the world of startups and will enable us to generate more significant commitment among the companies.

If you have any ideas or resources to contribute, we’d be happy to hear from you. We’re always interested in enlarging our circle of friends and partners.

Milestones

2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
2025
2030
Operation Protective Edge – the Gaza Envelope is exposed to a new and more sophisticated threat than ever before.
Following the threat of the attack tunnels and the sense of helplessness felt among locals, we targeted the regional school and worked to instill the mentality of responsibility and taking our lives into our own hands. We inaugurated a 'hackathon' that lasted about half a year in which ten groups of students from Sha'ar HaNegev School worked to devise creative solutions to the tunnels. This gave birth to the kernel of the idea for establishing SouthUp.
SouthUp Association is established in order to advance innovation in Sha'ar HaNegev. At the same time local groups of high school students began a project to build a nanosatellite as a way of gaining exposure to the world of hi-tech.
First StartUp conference in February. The conference laid the cornerstone for companies to join the incubator. After pooling resources, we renovated the building at our disposal and welcomed our first companies in August.
November – opening of a new and renovated site on Kibbutz Nir Am and absorption of new companies.
SouthUp's innovation sites stretch across an area of 1,200 sqm and comprise 14 startup companies that employ 65 workers.
Goals for this year are ambitious but doable – renovating an additional building to produce an additional 750 sqm for innovation sites, absorbing 10 additional companies, establishing the Impact Investment Fund, establishing 2-3 designated technology incubators, opening a first classroom in the new school.
SouthUp comprises 7,000 sqm of innovation sites containing some 70 startups and 600 employees. Annual 'giving back' investment of NIS 3,000,000 in developing and strengthening the community. The new school is attended by students in 7th to 12th grades.
Hi-tech Park with the school at its center.

The SouthUp team

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Elad Yeori

CEO
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Ahrale Rothstein

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Keren Magen

Operations manager
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Regina Kogan

Partners

In addition to our founding donors, we’ve been joined by additional donors, sponsors and partners, all of whom play an important role in the process and support us in fulfilling our vision. The following contributors make up the SouthUp Friends Society

Founding donors

SouthUp is a highly innovative project which has taken time until fully developing its model. The initial idea came during Israel’s Independence Day in 2015. This was followed in March 2016 by establishing the SouthUp Association, after understanding the needs and methods for growing startup companies in the region.

Although still in our early stages, we grow and strengthen from day to day – accumulating additional partners and developing further capabilities, with more in store for the future.

We wish to extend our immense gratitude and thanks to our founding donors who helped us establish SouthUp and who have accompanied us all along—our friends from San Diego, some of whom were here to celebrate that historical Israel Independence Day with us in 2015.

Acheatel Larry & Janet

Bielas Wolf & Brend

Kornfeld Rick & Carol

Lew Bill & Shana

Levitt Gary & Sheryl

Michan Carlos & Esther

Speigel Leo

Viterbi Alan & Caryn

Ellman David & Claire

Viterbi Andrew

Carnick Dan & Debbie

Viterbi Valerie

Feinswog Ira & Andrea