Innovation Authority CEO Aharon Aharon to step down for ‘next challenges’

Aharon took helm of the body in charge of setting Israel’s tech policies in 2017, formerly headed Apple’s R&D center in Israel

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

Aharon Aharon, CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority (Courtesy)
Aharon Aharon, CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority (Courtesy)

Aharon Aharon, the chief executive officer of the Israel Innovation Authority, has announced his intention to step down after four years at the helm of the body in charge of fostering the nation’s tech ecosystem and channeling government policies.

Aharon, who before joining the authority was the CEO of Apple’s R&D center in Israel, said in a statement that he was looking for new challenges. He will remain at his post for at least the next 90 days, until a replacement is found, the Innovation Authority said in a statement on Monday.

“After a challenging and groundbreaking period, I am finishing my role at the Innovation Authority with great pride and a sense of satisfaction, looking forward to the next challenges,” Aharon, 66, said in the statement. “I will work in the coming months, in coordination with the Authority’s Council, for an orderly transfer of the Authority’s management and for the continued momentum of the Authority’s work for the sake of getting out of the coronavirus crisis and for the sake of the Israeli economy.”

His aim at the helm of the authority, he said, was to have an impact on the industry and the economy. “The Authority is a professional, vital and necessary body for continuing to maintain the relative advantage of the State of Israel in the international innovation and high-tech industry, even and especially in times of crisis,” he said.

Aharon has helped steer the Israeli tech scene through the coronavirus crisis by providing assistance, including fast track grants to startups facing a cash flow crunch as investors hold on to their cash. Israel’s tech industry has been “significantly afflicted” by the coronavirus lockdown and is expected to see a drop of some 25% in private capital investments and a similar percentage of total revenues, Aharon said in April.

The authority under Aharon’s leadership has also undertaken projects to boost the quality of human capital in the tech sector and include sidelined populations, like women, Arab Israelis and the ultra-Orthodox.

During Aharon’s tenure as CEO, the Authority positioned itself as the voice of the high-tech industry within the government, and managed issues with critical bearing on the economy, while continually expanding its core activities, the Innovation Authority said in the statement.

Before serving as CEO of Apple Israel and vice president of hardware at Apple Global, Aharon served in the IDF’s elite Intelligence Unit 8200.

He holds two degrees from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, in computer and electrical engineering. He began his career at IBM, and then moved on to work in a number of private sector posts, including at Zoran Corporation and Seabridge. Aharon was also involved in setting up two startups that were later sold in exit deals. He was instrumental in the establishment of Israel’s Apple activities.

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