by TheTower.org Staff –
Israel’s prestigious Unit 8200 signal intelligence corps is well-known not just for its military effectiveness, but also for the success of its alumni in the hi-tech sector. Now they have launched a hi-tech incubator to support emerging tech entrepreneurs.
Inbal Arieli, who heads the 8200 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Program (EISP), talked about the program with the Times of Israel.
The program accepts 20 entrepreneurs a year (over 200 apply, said Arieli), who participate in a five month program led by 8200 alumni and top professionals in business, banking, technology, and many other areas, who come to speak and serve as mentors. It includes 15 full-day meetings (12 hours each day) spread across 5 months, from February to July, and culminates with Demo Day on July, attended by 300 of the premier investors — venture capitalists and angels — as well as representatives of multinationals.
The role of Unit 8200 in Israel’s hi-tech world was publicized through the 2009 bestselling book Start-Up Nation. Among the better known companies founded by the unit’s graduates are Checkpoint, ICQ and Nice.
The success that alumni of the unit have had in creating start-ups prompted the Guardian to observe that 8200 has “has spawned more tech millionaires than many business schools.” Though the start-ups founded by 8200?s alumni often employ technologies the entrepreneurs learned in the army, the product or service provided may be in more popular fields. For example, the Guardian explains, mining large amounts of data for critical information was applied to the fashion industry by the start-up Stylit.
“The technology is mainly machine-learning technology. It’s how to take huge amounts of information and from that to understand users’ behaviour.”
The website Geektime observes that the purpose of EISP is to take the skills the 8200 alumni learned in the army and “transfer their skills to the free marketplace.”