Founder of Ukrainian YEP incubator Andriy Zaikin at the invitation of Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has spent 10 days in Haifa as a part of MASHAV Startup Accelerators in Entrepreneurial Ecosystem program. For such a short time he managed to visit a dozen of startup accelerators, became friends with workmates from 22 countries and explored all the “oddities” of Israeli startup-hangout. He shared his impressions with Innovation House.
The first thing you notice is the terminology difference. In our country startup shall first come to incubator, where it is being told how to move from idea to implementation. Then project gets into accelerator, where it is being “grown”. In Israel – vice versa. First comes accelerator and afterwards – incubator.
Our group consisted of 30 persons from 22 countries of the world, and it turned out that some of them do it like in Israel and other part – like in Ukraine.
Thus far YEP is the only network of academic incubators in Ukraine. It operates based on the universities and helps students to turn their ideas into developments. At the first stage, 4 universities were its partners: Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Kyiv National Economic University named after Vadym Hetman, National Aviation University, and Donetsk National Technical University that is temporarily relocated in Pokrovsk city. 21 teams have already passed the first incubation program. The first Demo Day was held on June 8 this year. YEP promises to announce admission to the second program in August 29, 2017.
It is time to readjust yourself
Currently we associate Israel with innovations and developed startups ecosystem. They have more than a hundred accelerators alone.
And all this is created for 8 mln inhabitants of the country. But until recently none of this existed. In 2011 there were two startup accelerators in the country: The Junction and Venturegeeks. Everything has changed when the government set off on the road to innovations.
The example of Israel shows that little time is needed to readjust yourself. The only thing is needed is decisive actions.
STARTAU is one of the Israeli accelerators. Like our YEP, and it works with student startups. But there is one nuance. Students in Israel and in our country are two totally different sorts of things. I will explain why. In Israel both girls and boys serve in the military straight after school. Then they rest for a year. And only after this they enter the universities. In fact, “student startups” in Israel – are projects for grownups, for well-developed persons of aged 25 to 28 years.
Microsoft, TERRA Lab, Mass Challenge accelerators are located in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Mass Challenge operates according to network model. It has about 800 mentors and 400 consultancy expert all around the world. And corporative portal deals with management of the entire ecosystem. Considering that YEP – is network project too, we will keep in mind the experience of Mass Challenge.
About the importance of infrastructure. When I asked what conditions are required for the startups to work, I was told in Israel: “Table, chair, Internet – that is how the infrastructure looks like”. They believe that one may create startups anywhere. For instance, take a look at the local accelerator Sigma Labs.
The role of universities and the state
Universities are of paramount importance for Israeli startup ecosystem. Country has a kind of Ministry of Innovations – Innovation Authority. It administers public money, allocated from the budget for innovations development. In speaking of specific numbers, in 2016 $400 mln was allocated. In the last year alone 2,500 projects applied for the state support program, and 1,800 of them were eventually supported.
The Ministry promotes collaboration of business and universities in every possible way. Separate consortiums are being established and both private companies and the state participate in them. Business invests 10-15% of the amount required for the developments. Authors’ rights to developments are ultimately owned by the university, and business has the right to use it at no charge.
About 200 projects in Israel were already financed under this program. And 75% of which proved to be successful.