Birthright gets into the start-up business

10-week-long ‘Excel Ventures’ US-Israeli program in Tel Aviv will serve as an accelerator for entrepreneurs

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Birthright starts new joint US, Israel innovation program  (Courtesy)
Birthright starts new joint US, Israel innovation program (Courtesy)

Birthright Israel’s leadership has started an innovation program to promote cooperation between entrepreneurs from leading American universities and the technology units of the Israeli army to help generate new start-ups.

The 10-week-long “Excel Ventures” program will be held in Tel Aviv and will serve as an accelerator for the entrepreneurs: they will go through all the critical stages of bringing an idea to life, putting a team together, finding investors and carrying out their new concept.

The participants will be mentored by representatives of Israel’s startup community, including Liat Aaronson, a partner at Marker LLC Venture Capital; Yifat Oron, the chief executive officer of LeumiTech, a subsidiary of Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd.; and Amir Pinchas, the head of Operations and Portfolio at Microsoft Accelerators.

“Excel Ventures is the first ever program led by an international Jewish organization, that aspires to bring together future generations of great entrepreneurs from the United States and Israel, and to give them a platform for innovative creation in the vibrant hub of Tel Aviv – where they will found the next big thing,” Gidi Mark, CEO of Birthright Israel said in a statement.

Said Ifat Bechor, manager of Israel Birthright Excel: “The vision of the program is not only to provide young entrepreneurs with the tools for founding a startup, but also to deepen and reinforce connections between the future leaders of the most innovative tech hubs in the world.”

Excel Ventures is funded by the Steinhardt Foundation, the Schusterman Foundation and the Paul Singer Foundation, with the cooperation of other groups such as Ernest & Young and the Rise Community.

In addition to Excel Ventures, Birthright Israel is launching an “Academic Taglit” project. Participants on the 13-day tour will attend courses at IDC Herzliya and Ben Gurion University and receive academic credits at their own universities.

Birthright Israel is an organization that offers free trips to Israel for young adults of Jewish heritage. It has brought over half a million participants to Israel thus far.

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