In my travels of mentoring and presenting my Above The Code method, I see lots and lots and of startup accelerator programs and their facilities.
On my recent journey to Haifa, I visited the hiCenter Entrepreneurial Campus which stood out in terms of its approach to what I would call the integrated accelerator process.
Yael Mittelman, hiCenter Haifa’s CEO
Located in a high rise that has one view of the Mediterranean and an opposite view of the city’s magnificent, hilly landscape and distinct architecture, hiCenter is part of the city’s initiative to inject new startups and culture into its urban core.
Comprised of three components, hICenter, which provides seed financing and support for early stage companies; topStartup Accelerator, a hands-on accelerator for start-ups at the idea stage; and TopCenter, a communal workspace, which is the norm for entrepreneurs who want a place to work, meet and collaborate, and be around other like minded entrepreneurs.
I spent the day holding office hours, and met with six startups that were mostly run by a more mature management team, and had products and platforms with a higher degree of barriers to entry that I normally see.
While my observations and commentary are intentionally broad, my instinct in spending the day there, told me that when you are in the same neighborhood as where the likes of Yahoo, Google and Intel, have development centers and the world class university, Technion are your neighbors, there are going to be some serious, high caliber entrepreneurial spin offs.
Compared to what I generally see in Tel Aviv, I met startups in the medical device field, telecom, healthcare, and platform technologies and potential industry standards. I saw original ideas, met experienced business-minded people, and also had a chance to briefly meet and interview the Chief Scientist, Avi Hasson, who was visiting the center.
My overall impression is that by design, hiCenter is intentionally integrated, more like a well-oiled supply chain.
No matter where you might be in the life cycle of your startup, it appears that CEO Yael Mittelman and her team, coupled with the City of Haifa’s partnership, are doing something that is very compelling.
When you mix thousands of years of history, surround yourself with large, established R&D centers, and a world science and research university, and a pretty amazing 360 degree view, great things are sure to come about.
A very special thank you and big time shout out to Tzvika Shahaf, who is the organization’s Marketing Director, and host extraordinaire. Aside from helping to organize my visit, Tzvika took me on a guided tour of Haifa’s downtown area that is clearly in a unique phase of urban re-development.