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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 + 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.
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.
Director of the Upper Division of Sha'ar Ha'negev. Mentor for students at the Mandel Leadership Institute program in Jerusalem.
Former Superintendent of public school districts in California , Former Head of the Jewish Academy in San Diego
Former Head of Shaar HaNegev
VP at Amdocs and responsible for integration after merger (M & A).
Chairman and CEO of Kitu Systems, Inc. Former vice president of Commnexus, former founder and CEO of EvoNexus
Over the past 17 years the Sha’ar HaNegev region (Gaza envelope) has repeatedly found itself under fire. Our proximity to the fence coupled with Operation Protective Edge created socio-economic difficulties in the region and forced residents to contend with a complex reality filled with difficult challenges. In 2015, in a bid to cope with the complex situation, a group of educational and high-tech entrepreneurs from Sha’ar Ha’negev joined forces with the San Diego Jewish community. Together, they established a non-profit organization guided by shared values of identity, social involvement and mutual responsibility in the community.
SouthUp, The NGO works to improve quality of life for Sha’ar Ha’negev residents and advance the region by promoting technology, educating for innovation and entrepreneurship, creating new jobs, and engaging in significant social activism for the benefit of all residents. All of these goals are being achieved with great success. The NPO’s founders decided that these goals ought to be promoted on an ongoing basis, thus the establishment of the Association for the Development of Technological Entrepreneurship in Sha’ar HaNegev – SouthUp.
Founder and CEO
Entrepreneur, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at FST Biometrics. Chairman of the "Partnership Together" project that connects us and San Diego with many initiatives.
Owner of Wolfpack Ventures and Downtown Works in San Diego, California, a partner at OurCrowd.
Coordinator of Economic Development in the Sha'ar Ha'negev Regional Council
President of the Sapir Academic College, founded and directed the Department of Justice at the College.
The Friends of the Association supports SouthUp in achieving its goals. Association members include: philanthropic families from Israel and San Diego, strategic partners – Israel Innovation Authority, Jewish Agency and Jewish Federation of San Diego, Sapir Academic College, Israeli companies, local kibbutzim and more.
Members of the Friends Association benefit from direct exposure to dozens of entrepreneurs, start-ups, investors and a platform for business activity and customers.