The Israel Security Authority (ISA) (Shin Bet) and venture capital fund TAU Ventures, founded by Tel Aviv University, have announced the launching of a startup accelerator in Israel. The first class will focus on early-stage entrepreneurs working in artificial intelligence (AI), primarily natural-language processing (NLP) technologies, robotics, and data science.
The program, which will be called The Xcelerator, is aimed at connecting entrepreneurs who have a technological proof of concept and who are not necessarily oriented toward the homeland security industry. The first group of the program, which will begin this June, will have six startups participating and will run for four months. The participating startups will be chosen by a joint committee of professionals from the ISA and the TAU Ventures fund, and each of them will receive a $50,000 grant from the ISA, with no equity and no restrictions.
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The ISA’s Chief Innovation Officer said, “The ISA is already developing and implementing advanced technologies in a wide array of fields. This program is launched with great faith in the tremendous value of the Israeli technology industries, the brilliant minds behind them, and the technological breakthroughs we have witnessed in various fields. Cutting-edge technological capabilities that are being used in the finance, advertising, agriculture, and automotive industries are generic capabilities that could serve as major stepping stones for the ISA in the future. The purpose of this program is to allow entrepreneurs who are taking their first steps in various technological fields to advance in an accelerated pace toward their goals, without any commitment or limitation. This is based on the understanding that fostering these technologies and having the ISA and the entrepreneurs share and exchange knowledge and information between them could facilitate further breakthroughs and enhance our ability to meet any challenge.”
The startups that will be chosen for the program will be offered office spaces by TAU Ventures in a recently renovated complex within the venture capital fund’s offices. This complex includes various sizes of workspaces to meet the different needs of the participating entrepreneurs. The chosen startups will benefit from the dedicated support of content experts and tech experts from the ISA alongside ongoing mentoring and consulting by experts from the university and the tech industry. The cooperation with the ISA will offer opportunities to jointly explore new capabilities, look into potential cooperation, and take advantage of short feedback loops.
Tel Aviv University president Prof. Josef Klafter said, “We are proud to establish a partnership with one of the most important agencies safeguarding Israel’s security. The combination of the ISA’s intelligence and technological challenges, the scientific research and resources of Tel Aviv University, and finally, a group of outstanding entrepreneurs, could yield triumphant results.”
TAU Ventures managing partner Nimrod Cohen said, “The startup accelerator that will be launched soon is a groundbreaking program on an international level. This is the first time the most important counterterrorism organization in Israel, and one of the best worldwide, is investing in and supporting technologies from the local ecosystem of entrepreneurship, seeking to adopt these technologies and employ them in its routine activity. This is an extraordinary opportunity for the startups to work with a leading intelligence agency with no restrictions and without being required to make any commitment in return.”