Silicon Valley and Seattle are well-established tech hubs that entrepreneurs flock to for rapid innovation. But outside the U.S., choices for such ecosystems are very limited. This is because a successful startup hub requires a pool of top talent, advanced infrastructure and a supportive community.
But now, a new city has taken up the challenge to provide young companies with everything they need to thrive. With a population of 400,000 and home to over 700 startups, Tel Aviv announced several edgy initiatives that are designed to propel the city’s status in the global tech community. Unlike other urban regions, the government is taking a proactive approach to making the area more enticing for creative minds. The group’s plans cater to the interests of both locals and foreigners.
“Tel Aviv is the Nonstop City with Nonstop Innovation. Young entrepreneurs from all over Israel come to Tel Aviv to invent new products, and now young people from all over the world will be able to come and share this phenomenon with us,” said Ron Huldai, Tel Aviv-Yafo’s Mayor.
To attract foreign talent, the government is launching a special “startup” visa that would allow foreigners to enter the country and develop their projects with locals. Created by the Israeli Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Interior, along with the office of Chief Scientist, the official pass is good for 24 months. Individuals who decide to stay to continue their business endeavors will be provided with another visa that is suitable for the duration of the engagement.
“Israel is perceived in the world as a center of innovation and development, and we must preserve this achievement. The Startup Visa will enable foreign entrepreneurs from around the world to develop new ideas in Israel that will aid the development of the Israeli market,” explained Aryeh Deri, Minister of Economy.
Currently, the first batch of roughly 50 visas is being processed. Those who qualify will be employed directly under one of the 12 local companies taking part in the initiatives. According to the Wall Street Journal, the following countries also have similar programs in place to attract innovative talent: Chile, Ireland, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand, Germany and the U.K.
In addition to issuing special visas, the Israeli government wants to make the city more conducive for startups. The group laid out plans to introduce Wi-Fi in major public areas. Popular scenic destinations, like the Habima Theatre and the Tel Aviv Port, will receive the highly anticipated infrastructure boost. The new tech hub, which ranks second next to Silicon Valley, has already caught the attention of numerous startups. Leo Widrich, co-founder of Buffer, is taking part in the movement and recently relocated a handful of his employees to Tel Aviv from San Francisco and Hong Kong.
“The vision is that Tel Aviv can start to develop a more international startup culture,” highlighted Avner Warner, the city’s director of International Economic Development. “More foreigners here would attract more capital and allow for deeper engagement between locals and global innovators.”