Tag: Collaborations

First Israeli Research Book Published in Abu Dhabi

The work was issued by the UAE’s largest public research institute.

For the first time since the signing of the Abraham Accords, an Israeli research book was published in Abu Dhabi. The UAE’s largest public research institute, the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, has published Zionism in Arab Discourse by TAU’s Prof. Uriya Shavit and Dr. Ofir Winter from the Institute for National Security Studies, INSS. Translated into Arabic at the initiative of Dr. Rami Abd el-Hai Kabil, a lecturer of modern Hebrew literature in Sohag University, Egypt, this is the first Israeli research book to be published in the UAE.

Prof. Uriya Shavit is Head of the Religious Studies Program and The Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, both at The Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities at Tel Aviv University. Dr. Ofir Winter is a researcher at the INSS. 

Models for Inspiration

Initially published in Hebrew in 2013 by HaKibbutz HaMeuchad Publishing House and in English in 2016 by the Manchester University Press, the book has aroused considerable interest. Its main thesis is that, alongside animosity towards Zionism and Israel, quite a number of Arab thinkers since the end of the 19th century, including members of the Muslim Brothers, have regarded various aspects of the Zionist enterprise as models which the Arab world should also adopt. 

Arab texts that are mentioned in the book value a range of Zionist qualities, such as Israeli democracy, the figures of Herzl and Ben Gurion, the status of women in Israeli society, the revival of the Hebrew language, relations between Israel and the Jewish diaspora, and the achievements of Israeli science and academia.

Prof. Shavit and Dr. Winter: “In the book’s final chapter we wrote that Israelis can and should note the strengths identified by Arab thinkers – for example, the widely accepted notion that Israel’s democracy and rule of law can serve as a commendable model. We are very glad and proud that readers of Arabic will now be exposed to our book. In one sense, the very fact that it has been translated, under the auspices of the Abraham Accords, confirms our thesis – that the Arab world’s stance toward Israel is more multidimensional than what is commonly assumed.” 

 

The book’s cover. Its webpage on the website of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research can be viewed here

TAU and Goethe University Establish Joint Center for Interfaith Studies

First-of-its-kind academic collaboration between Israel and Germany.

Academic collaboration between Israel and Germany is growing, and for the first time, Tel Aviv University in Israel and Goethe University in Frankfurt will establish a joint center. With a focus on interfaith studies, the center will promote research on religion, in particular the monotheistic faiths – a field in which both institutions specialize. The two universities will conduct joint research, hold academic conferences, and train students and researchers in this field.

The agreement for launching the new center was signed during a dedicated “Germany Week” organized at TAU by TAU International and the Student Union of Tel Aviv University, the first is a series of international events led by TAU International and the TAU Student Union, promoting internationality and a global campus by focusing on the cultures of different countries and bringing them to the TAU community.

The signing was attended by the German Ambassador to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer, TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat, and the President of Goethe University, Prof. Enrico Schleiff.

“Tel Aviv university has a wide network of collaboration with German universities, more than with any other country in Europe,” says Prof. Milette Shamir, TAU’s VP in charge of international academic collaboration. 

“This collaboration includes hundreds of joint research projects as well as hundreds of German students who come to our campus each year. The joint center expands this collaboration in an important new direction and tightens our existing partnership with Goethe University Frankfurt, one of the leading universities in Germany. We hope that in the near future the two universities will expand collaboration to several other areas of common strength.”

 

German TAU Students celebrating the International “Germany Week” on Tel Aviv University campus (Photo: Raphael Ben-Menashe)

The Start of an Even Closer Cooperation

Prof. Menachem Fisch, who heads the initiative at TAU says, “I am thrilled to be part of the establishment of a unique, first-of-its-kind center for the study of the monotheistic faiths and their mutual development. This is a worthy initiative, and one more building block in the academic collaboration between the two countries.”

Prof. Enrico Schleiff, President of Goethe University notes that, ”What we are agreeing upon today is, as far as I am aware, unprecedented – at least in the humanities in Germany.” 

“It is not merely a formal cooperation between a German and an Israeli university, but rather the development of a highly visible, joint institutionalized international research center. The center is cross-departmental on both sides and working in an area of study that is most relevant to the German and the Israeli society alike: the history of and the present challenges in religious diversity, difference and conflict in pluralistic societies. It will focus on questions regarding inter-religious dialogue, religious fundamentalism and conflict, but also on the rich cultural heritage and the potential inherent in religious traditions. This center is the start of an even closer cooperation.”

Susanne Wasum-Rainer, Germany’s Ambassador to Israel says, “Academic exchange and cooperation is not only a constitutive pillar of German-Israeli relations. It is also a contribution to strengthening research and scientific progress as a global endeavor, in science as well as in the humanities. By declaring their will to establish a joint Center for the Study of Religious and Interreligious Dynamics, the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main and the Tel Aviv University address one of the urgent questions of our time, the role of religious communities in a changing and conflictual world.

“This MOU marks a new milestone in the special relationship between the two universities and is also another bridge of understanding between Frankfurt and Tel Aviv. The new center will for sure contribute to a better inter-religious dialogue from different angles and perspectives,” concludes Uwe Becker, President of the German Friends Association of Tel Aviv University

A unique collaboration for Blockchain Applications at the Coller School of Management

This is a special opportunity for researchers at the Coller School of Management and Tel Aviv University to carry out blockchain and crypto currency research in cooperation with international industry.

The blockchain technology enables secure business activity on the internet and commercial undertakings between various parties, without the necessity for a central managerial entity – this managerial function being replaced by encrypted blocks of information.  A few months ago the Coller School of Management at Tel Aviv University established the first venture of this kind in Israel – the Hogeg Institute for Blockchain Applications, with the aim of advancing research, teaching and distribution of information in the area of blockchain technology.

As part of the activities of the Institute, a unique collaboration was created when the the Hogeg Institute for Blockchain Applications signed an agreement with the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center to support academic research in the area of blockchain technology and crypto currencies.  The project is being financed by Accelerator Frankfurt GmbH, which leads the Fintech/Blockchain area in Germany and focuses its activities on introducing the digital B2B technologies into the financial sector, in cooperation with Santiment Deutschland, a well-known success story in the area of crypto currencies that provides access to a unique platform for storing data and enables its use for academic research.

Dr Jacob Mendel, Managing Director of the Hogeg Institute for Blockchain Applications explains:  “This is a groundbreaking venture in academic cooperation to advance blockchain research focusing on providing economic and business solutions that will contribute to activity on the cutting edge of international research in which a number of institutions at leading universities throughout the world such as Stanford and Columbia participate.”

Maria Pennanen, CEO of Santiment Deutschland, adds:  “We want to get students and researchers together to analyze and understand the crypto currency market data.  As a first stage, the cooperation will focus on academic work.  We will hold the first academic event in the crypto area, under the title ‘Academia Meets the Market Players’, where we will present our initial findings.”

Ram Shoham, founder of Accelerator Frankfurt:  “It is an honor for us to start this cooperation with the Hogeg Institute for Blockchain Applications.  We believe in caring for the global blockchain eco-system through cooperative ventures and partnerships.”

Prof. Dan Amiram, Associate Dean of the Coller School of Management at Tel Aviv University and Head of the Hogeg Institute for Blockchain Applications:  “This is a special opportunity for researchers from Tel Aviv University to carry out projects in cooperation with international industry that contends with new challenges and applies the technology in a range of areas of activity.”

Our very best wishes go to the students and researchers at Tel Aviv University and the Coller School of Management who are participating in this special research project in the blockchain and crypto-currency area in cooperation with international industry.

First Anniversary of Morocco-USA-Israel Agreement

TAU hosted celebration one year after the signing of the Tripartite Agreement.

Tel Aviv University hosted a celebration of the first anniversary of the signing of the Tripartite Agreement between Morocco, USA and Israel. The event was attended by Mr. Abderrahim Beyyoudh, Head of the Liaison Office of the Kingdom of Morocco to the State of Israel; Amos Elad, Vice President for Resource Development, Tel Aviv University; Prof. Milette Shamir, Vice President for International Academic Collaboration, Tel Aviv University and representatives from the U.S. Embassy. The Israeli Andalusian Orchestra performed at the event.

Special Breakthrough in Ties with Northern Africa

Prof. Milette Shamir, Vice President for International Academic Collaboration, Tel Aviv University: “Exactly a year ago, Morocco and Israel opened a new chapter in their long and complex relations. This new chapter brings to the forefront diplomatic, economic, and technological cooperation, and it is one in which universities in Israel and Morocco can play a lead role. We at TAU see great potential in promoting academic collaboration with Moroccan universities including through students exchange. In fact, next month we will be inaugurating a new scholarship fund intended to support talented young Moroccans who want to come study at Tel Aviv University”.

Prof. Uzi Rabi, Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies: “Morocco is a very unique country in the African and Middle Eastern landscape. Morocco had non-formal relations with Israel throughout the years, but the tripartite agreements are a remarkable achievement, which mark a special breakthrough in the ties with Northern Africa. Morocco and Israel are single minded in the belief that there is a need for a change in the Middle East. This conference is an indication that a cooperation can be achieved in various fields.

 

Mr. Abderrahim Beyyoudh and the The Israeli Andalusian Orchestra

Mr. Abderrahim Beyyoudh, Head of the Liaison Office of the Kingdom of Morocco to the State of Israel: “The Morocco-Israel-USA agreement has indeed laid the foundations for the resumption of Moroccan-Israeli bilateral relations, and triggered an all-out development of cultural, socio-economic and human ties.  This dynamic, which is reflected in a myriad of cooperation agreements and initiatives of economic operators and civil society, draws its strength from secular relations and the attachment of the Jewish community of Moroccan origin to the Kingdom and to the person of HM King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful.

The tripartite agreement also reaffirmed the importance of promoting a more peaceful and prosperous future in the Middle East on the basis of a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis. This important component reflects the constant commitment of HM King Mohammed VI, Chairman of the Al Quds Committee, in favor of the Palestinian cause and for peace and stability in the region.” 

Featured image: From left to right: Abdel Allali, Amos Elad, Mr. Abderrahim Beyyoudh and Prof. Milette Shamir (Ofer Amram, Tel Aviv University)

Advancing Israeli Innovation in China

A new agreement signed by Tel Aviv University and Tsinghua Shenzhen International Global School (TSIGS) will promote technological exchange between the two institutions

A ceremony marking a new cooperation agreement between Tsinghua Shenzhen International Global School (TSIGS), China, and Tel Aviv University was signed last week at TSIGS in the presence of Mr. Chen Rugui, Mayor of Shenzen; TAU President Joseph Klafter; TAU Rector Yaron Oz; and Advisor to the TAU President and Director of Asia Affairs, Ms. Orly Fromer; as well as leading TAU researchers. A second signing ceremony was held at TAU during the visit of a delegation from Shenzen to TAU headed by Mayor Chen Rugui.

The agreement aims to promote collaborative research, startup acceleration and incubation, and business relations between the two institutions. Bridging Tel Aviv and Shenzhen, the center will advance Israeli projects entering the Chinese market, and vice versa. It will serve as a gateway for startups emerging from Ramot, the technology transfer arm of Tel Aviv University and will attract investors for early stage technologies.

The cooperation agreement was first announced at the Third Annual China Israel Innovation Forum (CIIF), held in Shenzhen on November 30-December 1, 2018. The Forum was attended by the three co-chairs of CIIF: President of Tsinghua University and TAU Honorary Doctor Prof. Qiu Yong; Co-founder of Morningside, Chairman of Hang Lung Properties and TAU Honorary Doctor Mr. Ronnie C. Chan; and TAU President Joseph Klafter.  

CIIF is a platform for influential individuals from academia, government, and industry from China and Israel to explore the latest in technological developments and university-driven innovations.

TAU Ventures Raises $50M to Boost Israeli Startups

Israel’s first university investment arm leverages academic power to enrich startup ecosystem.

Tel Aviv University’s own investment arm, TAU Ventures, recently announced that it has secured $50 million for a new fund to invest in startups, with the potential to top-up to $70 million. According to Prof. Ariel Porat, President of Tel Aviv University, “TAU Ventures provide entrepreneurs with a platform for significant opportunities in innovation and extends the power of academia beyond the campus boundaries.”

TAU is consistently ranked as a top university producing entrepreneurs, its alumni ranked 5th globally and 8th in the world for entrepreneurship. The fund intends to invest in 15 to 25 companies founded by Israeli entrepreneurs, and – as part of TAU Ventures’ mandate – all the companies will be run by at least one TAU alumnus/a or TAU student.

Combining Forces between Academia and Industry

Housed in the Miles S. Nadal Home for Technological Innovation and Entrepreneurship, TAU Ventures invest much more than money in their portfolio companies, creating value for entrepreneurs by offering unique TAU resources, including: 

  • A Global Network – High-quality and sizeable network across the globe
  • Expert Knowledge – Connecting entrepreneurs with relevant sources of knowledge across campus
  • Man Power – In shape of TAU students who are interested in either joining the startups as interns (for which they earn credits for their studies) or as full time workers
  • Free Office Space – In close proximity to the TAU Venture team, who are comfortably seated in a 1000m² offices near the campus.

“It enables students to integrate practical experience with leading startups during their studies, and at the same time, it enables entrepreneurs to enjoy the diverse qualities of the campus,” says Prof. Porat.

“I’m happy about the given trust of the investors in TAU Ventures and I’m sure that combining forces between academia and industry will provide in the near future significant technological achievements that will benefit the entrepreneurs, the university and society at large.” 

TAU Takes Leading Role in Early Stage Investments

TAU Ventures was established in 2018 by Managing Partner, Nimrod Cohen, together with Tel Aviv University, with the interest in taking a leading role in early stage investments across a wide range of sectors (fintech, foodtech, drones, etc.) in Israel. This is part of a successful trend in the United States of leading universities including MIT, Berkeley & Stanford establishing venture investment arms. 

“Many investors prefer to operate in A or post-seed stages, as they would rather see a product that has already reached the market. We are covering the critical early stage, enabling new companies to emerge,” says Cohen.

Israel’s first university investment arm has proven to be a huge success: TAU Ventures’ first fund of $20 million began in 2018 and made 18 investments including: SWIMM, Xtend, Gaviti, MyAir, Castor, Medorion and more. The first fund IRR is in the top 10% compared to all US funds from the same size and vintage.

All investors from the previous fund have now reinvested in the current fund. Both funds were led by Chartered Group, which brings together leading entities from Japan, plus new investors, including Family Offices in the US, Canada and Europe.

Featured image: TAU Ventures Team, clockwise: Inbal Perlman, Jennifer Schwartz, Ella Iwler and Nimrod Cohen

A Bridge to Clean Water

Joint Israeli-Emirati Water Research Institute to Open in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

A first of its kind agreement was signed this Tuesday in Abu Dhabi to launch a joint Israeli-Emirati Water Research Institute. It is the first official agreement of its kind when a Water Research Institute is being established as part of a strategic commercial collaboration between Watergen, an Israeli water from air technology company, and Baynunah, a sister company of Al Dahra Group, an Emirati agriculture group that specializes in food security, and will be working in close collaboration with the Moshe Mirilashvili Institute for Applied Water Studies at Tel Aviv University’s Water Research Center.

From Scientific Knowledge to Cutting Edge Possibilities

In attendance at the signing ceremony were: Dr. Michael Mirilashvili, Owner and President of Watergen; Prof. Ariel Porat, President of the Tel Aviv University; Prof. Milette Shamir, Vice President of Tel Aviv University; Amos Elad, Vice President for Resource Development and Public Affairs Division at Tel Aviv University, Prof. Dror Avisar, Head of Moshe Mirilashvili Institute for Applied Water Studies at Tel Aviv University; H.E. Khedaim Abdulla Al Derei, Vice Chairman and Co-Founder of Al Dahra Group; Mr. Eitan Na’eh, the Israeli Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, and other senior officials and members of the parties. Prof. Shamir stated: “Tel Aviv University has a strong commitment to excellence in research and to extensive international collaboration. Research at the joint water institute will build on our special academic strengths, and will open a path for collaboration with the U.A.E. in other mutual areas of research, as well as to student and faculty exchange programs.”   Tel Aviv University: A powerhouse in innovative water R&D

Producing Drinking Water from Air

Besides academic cooperation, Watergen and Baynunah laid the cornerstone for a Watergen production facility in the UAE. This joint venture will commercialize Watergen products in the United Arab Emirates, the Gulf States, and Africa. This joint venture has already been collaborating with the Abu Dhabi municipality, leading to dozens of Watergen devices being already deployed around the city for the benefit of its residents, forming the initial stage of one of this joint venture missions, namely to deploy thousands of Watergen devices all across the UAE. Watergen’s innovative technology enables to produce top quality pure and fresh drinking water solely from the air. Watergen devices use a standard connection to electricity or other alternative energy sources such as solar panels, and can produce up to 6,000 liters of top-quality pure drinking water per day. Today, Watergen’s devices are deployed in more than 80 countries around the world, and are located in remote villages, hospitals, city centers, public parks, schools, office buildings, and even in disaster struck areas. The partnership between Watergen and Baynunah expands the commercial footprint of Watergen in the region, while serving as a catalyst in strengthening the ties between the two nations. “The Abraham Accords has given countries in the Middle East the opportunity to improve and advance relations in various fields,” says Watergen’s President and CEO, Dr. Michael Mirilashvili. “Thanks to the agreements, we – an Israeli company – are able to cooperate with our Middle East neighbors to solve one the region’s difficult problems – water scarcity. Throughout history, conflicts have often been centered around controlling water sources. Today we are doing the opposite: building peace and a common future around a groundbreaking Israeli technology that will provide a plug-and-play solution which allows all residents of the UAE and the world an unlimited access to off grid, top quality and pure drinking water.” Featured image: From the signing ceremony in Abu Dhabi this week (Photo: Tel Aviv University)

TAU Launches Manufacturing Research Center in India

Initiative will promote cutting-edge research with applications in biomedicine, space, defense, and more.

Tel Aviv University and Thapar Institute of Engineering & Technology (TIET) in India have agreed to jointly build a collaborative research establishment to explore advanced production technologies.

The Future of Cutting-Edge Production

The new Thapar-Tel Aviv University Center of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing will draw knowledge from multidisciplinary teams from TAU and TIET with expertise in all fields of engineering and sciences. As such, it aims to promote cutting-edge research with industry applications in disciplines including biomedicine, automotives, space and defense.

TAU Vice President for International Collaboration Prof. Milette Shamir and Prof. Prakash Gopalan, Director of TIET, on April 4 signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding at TIET’s main campus in Patiala, India, in the presence of Mr R R Vederah, Chairman of TIET’s Board of Governors.

Speaking at the signing, Prof. Shamir said “TIET is an important partner for TAU in India and the new Center will bring cooperation between our two universities to a new level.” Noting that 2022 marks 30 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and India, she added that “academia plays a special role in the bilateral relationship. Through the advancement of knowledge, bridges are built between students and researchers that can generate substantial benefits for both countries.”

Expanding Existing Partnership

As part of the agreement, TIET has committed to establish a TAU Chair Professorship who will lead the Center. Prof. Noam Eliaz, the founding Chair of TAU’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering is due to serve as the new Center’s inaugural chair professor.

“I’m excited and proud to be chosen by Thapar University as TAU’s representative to serve as the new chair professor and take part in establishing one of six centers of excellence for advanced production technologies, including 3D printing and unprecedented resource investment,” he said. He added that he aims to turn the Center into a leader in its field in India and in the world.

The new Center expands the existing partnership between TAU and TIET, which includes initiatives such as the TAU-TIET Food Security Center of Excellence headed by Prof. Yossi Shacham, along with joint degree programs in life sciences and engineering, and other forms of academic cooperation.

Featured image: TAU Vice President of International Collaboration Prof. Milette Shamir (front left) and Prof. Prakash Gopalanat (front right), Director of the Thapar Institute of Engineering & Technology, at the April 4 signing ceremony in Patiala, India

See you in Dubai

The new agreements between nations have created new opportunities – A TAU student meets students from the University of Dubai.

Oleg Ben-Avi, a third-year student in the Digital Society Studies Track at the Gershon H. Gordon Faculty of Social Sciences, was the first student from TAU to meet with students from the University of Dubai.

Connecting through Instagram

Oleg’s meeting with the Chairman of the University of Dubai’s Student Union, the Union’s Consultant and the Head of its Gaming Club, was coordinated by Ido Montaniez, Head of Culture, Sports and Foreign Affairs at the TAU Student Union, who says:  “We have good relations with universities in the UAE, and every day we form more ties. But our ties with the Student Union of the University of Dubai are especially close.” Ido recounts how he created the initial contact through the Instagram: “We conduct thorough research on every institution we wish to contact. If we find that a certain institution is especially active on a social network, we use that channel. Encountering too many obstacles in the University of Dubai’s formal channels, I turned to the social networks, and it worked,” he smiles.

Once the channel had opened, Oleg, a TAU Union representative on holiday in Dubai, was more than happy for the opportunity to make new friends. He shared his experiences with us:

  •  What did you as a student gain from this encounter?

“As a student of Digital Society Studies (Sociology-Anthropology and Communication), I wanted to get to know their culture and social perceptions. At the beginning the conversation was a bit guarded, but gradually they opened up, and I found people who are not very different from us. They are cynical like we are, they enjoy free humor – as long as it does not offend their religion, but even this rule can be bent at times. They are in favor of criticism, and open to discussions and questions that can be challenging. For example, the standup performances of Achmed the Dead Terrorist are very popular over there.”

  •  What insights did you gain from the meeting?

“I realized that the degree I am studying for can really be useful, today and in the future. I saw how active they are on the social networks, and how the technological revolution has helped Dubai grow and become a world power in quite a few areas. It was also clear to me that this meeting was only the beginning. They expect to establish numerous collaborations with us, between our universities specifically, and with Israel in general. My new friends just can’t wait to visit Israel. I played some Israeli music for them, which I thought was their style (based on what they had played for me) and told them that we have an enormous range of music genres. They loved it!” 

  • What about a return visit to Israel?

“The Student Union is planning official visits, joint seminars and student exchange programs with its UAE partners. A full week of online events is planned for March, including both social and academic meetings between students. I invited them to Israel and promised to be their guide. I do hope they’ll take me up on it.”

Pic: Oleg, Ahmed, Matt and Abdullah at a café.

TAU’s Foreign Office

Behind the scenes, planning meetings and collaborations between students, we also found TAU’s VP International, Prof. Milette Shamir, and the team at TAU International – responsible for TAU’s interface with universities worldwide, serving international students and proposing suitable programs.

“From the moment the agreements were signed it was clear that, in addition to forming new academic connections and collaborations, we must also define the role of academia in building bridges between nations and cultures,” says Prof. Shamir. “Ties between students are an excellent basis for all the rest. The spirit of Tel Aviv University, which places great emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as the city of Tel Aviv – an international hub of entrepreneurship, go very well with the spirit of universities in Bahrein and the UAE, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where entrepreneurship and innovation also predominate.”

“One high-potential aspect of our connection with the UAE is the prospect of bringing over some of their outstanding students. Many young people from the UAE go overseas to study, and traditionally they prefer elite academic institutions in the UK or US. Now they can attend excellent universities closer to home, offering programs that can suit their fields of interest, and an environment that feels more like home. 20% of our students know Arabic from home. We are in the Middle East. We have hummus in our cafeteria.”

Featured image: Oleg Ben-Avi and his friends from the University of Dubai

Accelerating Jewish-Arab Entrepreneurship

TAU’s jumpTAU program helps bicultural teams found start-ups and friendships.

By Lindsey Zemler

“If you put a law student, a medical student, a social sciences student and an engineer in a room—it’s not the start of a joke. It’s the start of a creative idea,” says Yair Sakov, Managing Director of TAU’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center and its accelerator program, jumpTAU. 

The four-month program provides a framework for teams of TAU students and recent alumni to develop a business or social venture. In 2020, the Center, which promotes the integration of diverse communities into Israel’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, focused on bringing together Arab and Jewish students. 

Although Arab society constitutes more than 20% of Israel’s population, relations between Arab citizens and the Jewish majority are often characterized by ignorance, prejudice and fear. The same is true on Israeli campuses: “Connections between Jews and Arabs are happening in the workplace,” Sakov says, “but in academia we don’t see it enough.”

According to jumpTAU participant Lena Polevoi, a Jewish biomedical engineering student, having Jews and Arabs working together gave her team unique insights into developing a product. She acted as CEO of a student group developing a digital platform called Chatty, which aims to reduce loneliness among the elderly. “We discovered that loneliness is less prevalent among Arab seniors because they generally live with their families, while Jewish seniors do not,” she says.

 

Lena Polevoi. Photo: Yael Tzur.

Polevoi adds that she entered the program ready to learn as much as possible before graduating, especially in the field of digital marketing.

Similarly, Arab-Israeli Osaid Watted, a second-year mechanical engineering student, applied to jumpTAU to cultivate his entrepreneurial skills. He also wished to forge connections to the Jewish business world. Watted was part of the team that launched Game On, an online social platform for amateur athletes to find sports games to compete in. The team members’ different fields of study enhanced the business development process, he says.

The jumpTAU novice entrepreneurs received guidance from industry veterans and executives with decades of experience. All of the program’s volunteer mentors are TAU alumni. Most important, the mentors provided an entry point into the business world, which was a major advantage, especially for the Arab students; finding a job, for example, says Watted, would otherwise be very difficult for him, who has no experience or contacts in Israel’s business community.

Osaid Watted. Photo: Yael Tzur.

Osaid Watted. Photo: Yael Tzur.

In addition to networking opportunities, the program, funded by the U.S. Embassy and USAID’s Conflict Mitigation and Management (CMM) Program, provided additional benefits to participants, says Sakov. 

Jewish students gained a rare window into the Arab market through their Arab peers, a huge market opportunity locally and globally, he says.

Polevoi emerged from the program with new knowledge and skills and a refined direction in life. The experience led her to take a job in a solar energy venture upon graduation from TAU. She also became good friends with her Arab teammate and says that participation in the accelerator was an opportunity to get to know a new culture first-hand. 

For Watted, the experience provided enormous personal and professional benefits; “the entrepreneurial sense in me just grew, and I became more confident in my abilities, like how to actually build a start-up—it’s just priceless.” He now plans to start his own company, based on the values he was raised on: to provide an egalitarian and empowering work environment for disadvantaged groups within the Arab community, including Arab women. 

“Respecting each other and working with each other creates a feeling of tolerance,” said Watted. 

By the program’s end, two out of eight teams had raised investment funding for their start-ups to continue beyond the accelerator. Yet, to Sakov, securing funding is but “the icing on the cake.” 

“Professional collaboration is where humanity begins,” concludes Sakov. “When you work with someone, you trust them. All of a sudden, the label that says Jewish or Arab disappears, and you see the person behind it.”

featured image: jumpTAU students. Photo: Yael Tzur.

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