Tech support

“If you want innovation, you have to support young entrepreneurs”


The second edition of the Startup + competition organized by Calcalist in collaboration with Poalim Hi-Tech is open for registrations. The competition aims to support and propel early stage startups on the path to growth.

The competition will see 20 selected startups participate in a unique entrepreneurship training program in cooperation with IDC Herzliya’s Zell Entrepreneurship Program. The five startups that qualify for the final will appear before a panel of judges made up of investors from major funds in Israel.

Judges for this year’s event will be: Dov Moran, Managing Partner at Grove Ventures; Michal Drayman, corporate partner at JVP; Yodfat Harel Buchris, Managing Director of Blumberg Capital; Roi Bar-Kat, director of Intel Capital Israel; Tzahi Cohen, Head of Corporate Banking at Bank Hapoalim; Yael Elad, operating partner at Aleph VC; Assaf Wahrhaft, partner at UpWest; Tami Bronner, partner at Vertex Ventures; Gay Yaman, Founder and Managing Partner of TPY Capital; Jonathan Saacks, Managing Partner at F2 Venture Capital; and Adi Gozes, Venture Partner at Entrée Capital.

Startup + judges: Assaf Wahrhaft (right), Tami Bronner, Jonathan Saacks and Guy Yaman. Photo: courtesy

Last year’s competition was won by early stage biotech company Matricelf, which is developing a platform of matrix implants and autologous cells for a wide range of medical conditions. The company, which was established in 2019 by Professor Tal Dvir of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory at Tel Aviv University, has developed a new regenerative medicine platform that aims to cure a range of conditions. medical conditions, including spinal cord injury. Matricelf plans to start its first clinical trials towards the end of 2023.

“Research is progressing according to our plans and we have recently moved into our own offices and laboratories. We recently went public and became a public company. We raised 24 million shekels, the demand being double what we had targeted. We eventually increased the supply to NIS 24 million, although initially we were only aiming for NIS 21 million, ”Matricelf CEO Asaf Toker told Calcalist. “Our next goal is to start experiments on animals, scheduled for early 2022. The IPO has not changed the essence of the company and was for us only a means of financing. This visibility does not hurt us and it is a very important and comfortable way to finance research in biotechnology which is very expensive. The exposure we got in the competition helped us a lot and played a role in the overall image. Winning the competition is a statement we received from the judges who considered us the most interesting business. “

The competition is open to tech startups in the pre-seed and seed stage, which have raised up to $ 5 million. The selection committee will assess applicants based on their competitive edge in innovation and technology, and their business potential relative to their relevant market.

The winners will receive an attractive package of prizes, including: a cash prize of tens of thousands of shekels, professional advice from Poalim Hi-Tech, an advertising campaign on the Calcalist site and a quarter rent from Mindspace.

Startup + judges Adi Gozes (right), Tzahi Cohen and Yael Elad.  Photo: courtesy Startup + judges Adi Gozes (right), Tzahi Cohen and Yael Elad. Photo: courtesy

In an interview with Calcalist, Tomer Notkin, director of Poalim Hi-Tech’s business center, explained why the competition is focused on start-ups. “It is very important that there are young companies that will continue what is happening today. We want to offer a set of tools of the highest level so that young entrepreneurs have all the capacities to grow and deal with the big companies. I “I’m not sure everyone has the same opportunities right now. Companies like Amazon have departments capable of creating innovation, as do many large Israeli tech companies that have capabilities in the software industry. The result is that there are fewer new companies being created. ”

Are you concerned about the lack of new businesses?

“We believe there is an opportunity to increase the integration of different people in the tech industry. We see many funds investing larger checks in fewer companies. Innovation always comes from the grassroots and we have to make sure that young companies are not. We have to make sure that a small entrepreneur also has the guidance, advice and all the support needed.

“We are seeing fewer new companies starting up. This is not a new process, but something that has been going on for years and has been accelerated by Covid. It is easy to support companies that have clear data and numbers . It’s far more difficult for entrepreneurs when they don’t have numbers and data. All of this disrupts the business cycle and I want to help avoid that. I want to see that programmers graduating from Technion can found the business they dreamed of and set up a unicorn, rather than just going to work for an existing business. Young entrepreneurs need mentorship on how to talk to investors, how to focus, how propose a business model, understand how a product works, how to manage growth and how to manage partnerships. ”

Tomer Notkin, director of the Poalim Hi-Tech business center.  Photo: courtesy Tomer Notkin, director of the Poalim Hi-Tech business center. Photo: courtesy

Do you see diversity in the companies that come to you?

“We’re seeing less advanced technology and a lot of cloud solutions that are more about fast software solutions. We see less funds operating in the deep tech world. We want to help as much as possible and keep an open mind on how the ripening time can be shortened. We like companies that have slightly more in-depth technology, as well as companies that have new and competing technology.

How do you see the high-tech credit market?

“The debt market for high-tech companies has become very competitive. Even big companies are raising funds with equity and there is a decrease in demand for debt. The software world wants to save debt for a rainy day, but companies are overflowing with money and I guess they will only get into debt if they want to make acquisitions. There aren’t a lot of CFOs who have brought companies into the stock market and worked in technology and it is very important to provide mentorship to companies so that they know how to take on debt at the right time and not when the business is not ready. In many cases, businesses that are not considered ready will not receive credit. Credit can be disastrous if misused. If we are talking about an entrepreneur who already knows how to work and who has clients, then it would be fair to take on debt at a ratio suited to the current and future income of the company. ”

Startup + registration: calcalist.co.il/startupplus


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