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Tel Aviv to hold 24-hour online hackathon in bid to create 100 new startups

Next week’s event aims to help tech professionals who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus come up with ideas and bring them to life

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

Illustrative image of brainstorming, hackathon (iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image of brainstorming, hackathon (iStock by Getty Images)

In a bid to get recently unemployed tech professionals to set up startups, the Tel Aviv Municipality along with Google and Microsoft and other industry players will be holding what they say is Israel’s “biggest 24-hour online bootcamp” in which mentors will work with fledgling entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to fruition.

The aim is to generate over 100 startups in one day, the organizers of the bootcamp said. The overnight event, #100StartupsChallenge, is set to take place on September 15-16, starting at 6 p.m.

The event, jointly held by the Tel Aviv Municipality and Google for StartUps, will be headquartered at the WeWork Hazerem premises in Tel Aviv. The initiative was conceived when it became clear that many talented professionals found themselves unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the statement said.

Israel’s tech industry has been “significantly afflicted” by the pandemic and is expected to see a drop of some 25% in private capital investments and a similar amount in total revenues, the Israel Innovation Authority said in April. A poll in early July by the Israel Innovation Authority and the Israel Advanced Technologies Industries (IATI), based on a survey of 825 companies, showed that 29 percent of the tech firms polled said they have fired workers.

Spearheaded by Yossi Dan, who heads an innovation lab that sets up startup accelerator programs and bootcamps, the event aims to see a 500-entrepreneur audience that will be addressed by parliament member and tech entrepreneur MK Nir Barkat, Jon Medved, the CEO of OurCrowd venture capital fund, and Aharon Aharon, the CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority. Ofira Yochanan Wolk, on behalf of Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, will also participate in addition to other experts, investors and founders, the statement said

The 24-hour push will include presentations, talks, and teamwork sessions guided by mentors. Participants will be matched to other professionals, and topics covered will include fintech, cyber, blockchain, agritech and education tech (edtech).

“In total, hundreds of hours of content and personal mentoring will be provided at no cost to Israel’s aspiring entrepreneurs and professionals,” the statement said.

The event will conclude with the top 10 selected teams being given the opportunity to pitch at a “Shark Tank” type session in front of a panel of early-stage investors and business angels, the organizers said in a statement.

Deadline for applications is midnight Tuesday, September 8. The event, held in English, will be open 500 aspiring entrepreneurs and professionals, including unemployed, self-employed, new immigrants and students who are interested in creating or joining startups, the statement said.

All the mentors, investors and speakers will provide their support to the initiative pro bono, the statement added.

Partners in the event include the Tel Aviv municipality, Google For Startups, the Gvahim NGO, WeWork, Microsoft for Startups, OurCrowd, Israel Innovation Authority, 8200 startups, Techstars, Shibolet & Co law firm, and the Israel Smart City Institute.

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