Innovation drives progress. Israeli innovation is the primary driver of economic growth. Israel holds the world’s number one spot for R&D run by private businesses, the world’s number one position in exports in the fields of technology, and seventh in the world for the number of patents per capita.
The hi-tech industry accounts for 9% of the workplace but 50% of Israel’s exports. Any field in Israel interested in growth must adopt innovation development. Less than 5% of Israel’s startups are located in the country’s south, from Ashdod to Eilat.
SouthUp aims to change that statistic.
In an era where the rate of economic, social and cultural changes is powered by technologies, an innovation based environment is vital for the fields of technology, society and education. Creating this type of environment requires a value based and constantly updating outlook that structures itself on clearly defined, solid values while being flexible enough to adjust to changing perceptions on innovation. SouthUp assimilates technological initiatives which share a common denominator: the ability to invent while thinking in non-standard ways. We believe that this kind of thinking should be assimilated into every field of life.
We’re about bringing this region thinking and technological development that’s unexpected, out of the box, and non-standard.
SouthUp was jointly established by hitechers and educators from Shaar Hanegev and San Diego. Shaar Hanegev Regional Council covers a large area of Israel’s south, including the Gaza Envelope communities. SouthUp started out in Shaar Hanegev but intends to bring innovation to the Gaza envelope area and the south in general. We see innovation as an economic force that can open up employment possibilities in the area while simultaneously promoting social and cultural progress.
SouthUp’s vision is to develop the region and position it as a leader in innovation and technology. SouthUp works to connect the local population to the innovation ecosystem by creating an integrative network linking companies, entrepreneurs, regional kibbutz communities, small businesses, and local industries.
The innovation community helps to expose the members of the community to business and employment opportunities and works to create new jobs in the fields of technology and entrepreneurship.
The community encourages connections, cooperation and synergy among startups, businesses, kibbutz communities, companies, non-profits and educational institutions in the area, linking them to the region’s socio-economic agenda.
SouthUp also produces events, leads projects and social activism, and works to create an authentic connection among these amazing elements which comprise our unique area known as the Gaza Envelope.
“Tikkun Olam (‘repairing the world’)
– begins with education”
We believe that the core to driving change in the community is investment in tomorrow’s generation, and ensuring employment opportunities for the current generation.
“I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn,” Albert Einstein is renowned for saying. This is what we work at emulating as we develop new educational concepts that encourage creativity, cooperation, critical thinking, and questioning curious minds that never cease to ask ‘why?’ and ‘why not?’
Our model encounters students in a range of frameworks, from school to university, inviting them in to the worlds of entrepreneurship and innovation.
The peak of development will manifest in constructing a new educational center in the heart of an innovative hi-tech park. The center will bridge between students’ home environment and the environments of R&D and Innovation.
We started with a unique entrepreneurial program run as part of the syllabus at the Shaar Hanegev senior high school. Students joined forces with us as we worked on solutions to the threat of Hamas tunnels into Israel.
The program lasted for 6 months, with the participation of 120 students and 30 mentors, and produced 11 presentations. It also produced two important insights:
As part of our ongoing activities, we created a cooperative venture with Sapir College. The “Specialists Project” aims to integrate students as interns in startup companies, providing them with real time experience that goes beyond their academic studies, and which can additionally become an avenue for integrating them into the workplace on earning their degrees.
This project’s advantages are bidirectional: students benefit from gaining practical experience and a significant head start in the job market, and startups enjoy the students’ support and professional involvement. The project is run in conjunction with the department for digital design, technological marketing, computer sciences, faculty of law, and more.
“The true measure of our success will be the number of people
touched and transformed by our success”
SouthUp is working to promote quality employment options and hi-tech development in southern Israel. We work closely with the startups operating in SouthUp incubator and assist them in finding quality employees with a local preference. Every new job opening sees us first contacting Shaar Hanegev and Gaza Envelope communities and residents, and only afterwards expanding the search to additional areas. So far we have created 100 new workplaces in the region, and intensively continue to promote local employees and service providers.