Gaza border's SouthUp incubator resumes operations

SouthUp CEO Gil Shwarsman credit: PR
SouthUp CEO Gil Shwarsman credit: PR

The Negev tech incubator has also established an impact fund for new startups to help with the rebirth of the region.

The events of October 7th and the war in Gaza severely damaged the activity of the SouthUp technology incubator, which is housed in two locations - just outside Sderot and Kibbutz Nir Am. Many of the SouthUp's entrepreneurs and employees are residents of the surrounding area, and were evacuated with their families. Others were drafted into extended army reserve service, and thus the activity almost completely stopped or was carried out only remotely. In recent weeks, the entrepreneurs and workers have begun to return to the incubator center in Sha’ar HaNegev, and next week the center in Nir Am is also expected to reopen for full work.

At the same time, the incubator, which was established in 2017 to promote technological entrepreneurship in the Gaza border region, announced three moves. The first is the addition of four startups to a portfolio that currently includes 27 startups in the fields of agrotech, foodtech, healthcare, cleantech, "Internet of Things" and more.

The startups joining are Dig Robotics, which develops training and control systems to improve the productivity and efficiency of mining sites, and VineRobotics, which is developing a smart, AI-based robotic system for the cultivation and improvement of vineyards.

The third startup is MindsView, which offers support, training and remote medical advice in critical events and treatments using augmented reality technology. The fourth startup Robin Medical Systems, has developed a system for tracking the position and direction of miniature sensors during an MRI scan, which helps in performing the test among children or patients who are in a condition that does not allow cooperation (stroke or dementia, for example).

Ofir Libstein's legacy

The second move is the establishment of an investment fund. "In the coming weeks, we will launch a regional impact fund that will operate as part of the incubator," says Gil Shwarsman, CEO of SouthUp. "The fund will invest in startups in the incubator, or in other seed companies that operate or are ready to move their operations to the Western Negev region. We are in contact with institutional and private investors in Israel and around the world, and the response is very impressive.

"After a freeze of almost six months, we see the beginnings of recovery in the area, with interest from investors who understand the need to combine investment in start-ups with profit potential with real Zionism and assistance to the rebirth of the surrounding area. This is the real answer to bringing it back to being prosperous and flourishing."

Regarding the addition of the new startups precisely at this time, Shwarsman says that "it is a great excitement to work with entrepreneurs who are interested in operating in the Western Negev region, and to fulfill the vision of the late Ofir Libstein, head of the Sha’ar HaNegev council. Ofir dreamed of turning the area into Israel's Silicon Valley, and now we are obligated to continue this, as someone who believed in the incubator from the day it was founded, and was one of its prominent drivers."

As part of the expansion of the incubator’s activities, a cornerstone laying ceremony will soon take place for the construction of a new complex of 3,300 square meters, which will be able to accommodate about 60 companies. Shwarsman points out that the construction of the new building, which will operate near the Sderot railway station, was an initiative of the late Libstein. The complex is expected to become operational in 2026, and will include R&D laboratories alongside work areas.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on April 14, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

SouthUp CEO Gil Shwarsman credit: PR
SouthUp CEO Gil Shwarsman credit: PR
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