How do you know who the new stars are in the worlds of cooking, singing, or entertainment? Easy — just flip on your TV and check out the winners of Master Chef, American Idol, or X-Factor. The contestants who nab the winning title on those shows are, according to the wisdom of the audience and the judges, the professionals to keep an eye on in years to come.
Now, some of that X-Factor magic is coming to Israeli high-tech, in the form of the Chief Scientist’s “Entrepreneur of the Future” contest. Geared towards students (contestants can be of any age, but must be studying for an academic degree), the contest invites groups to submit a proposal for a product – at least at the proof of concept stage – that solves a business, consumer, or enterprise problem better than current offerings.
The team should also be able to show how it can defend the product’s intellectual property (ie., what patents would be taken out for it), and if it helps solve a social problem, then all the better. The team that best meets the contest criteria will be awarded NIS 100,000 ($29,000), tax free, for continued development of the product; two runner-up teams will receive NIS 75,000 and 50,000, respectively. Judging the projects will be officials from the Chief Scientist’s Office Tnufa program, which exists specifically to help inventors with good ideas, at a pre-seed stage.
The winners will be announced on stage at the Israel Advanced Technology Industries 2014 Innovation Conference in May, the biggest and best of the many tech shows held in Israel annually – and the Chief Scientist’s Office promises that it will be a tech “show of shows.”
Of course, the main purpose here isn’t entertainment, but innovation, said Chief Scientist Avi Hasson. “Encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation among students is an important element for building any ecosystem that hopes to foster growth and continue our leadership in innovation,” said Hasson, announcing the contest. “Innovation is a way of thinking and our mission is to implement it at any age and in any field.”