The winner of the first ever Haredi Startup Competition at the annual Haredi High-Tech Conference is CleanCity, a company providing high-tech systems for monitoring urban waste removal, saving municipal funds and improving service for local residents. The Clean City system is comprised of devices attached to waste management trucks and garbage cans providing real-time monitoring of the waste removal process. The project is currently being piloted in the Israeli town of Modiin Illit.


The groundbreaking Haredi High-Tech Conference focused on the opportunities and challenges involved in integrating the Haredi community into the Israeli high-tech sector.

 

 


The conference was a joint effort between JVP – one of Israel’s leading venture capital firms – and the Haredi High-Tech Forum. It also included a series of panels aimed at increasing the number of Haredim in higher education and debating steps the Haredi community itself can take to promote an environment more conducive to entrepreneurialism.

“The Haredi community needs to integrate into the high-tech industry both as staff and as managers,” said JVP General Partner Kobi Rozenkrantz. “We must integrate them into companies which are not necessarily targeted at the Haredi market. That’s what will spur more Haredi ‘exits.’”

Israel’s Chief Scientist in the Ministry of Economy, Avi Hasson, announced two new programs at the conference aimed at encouraging entrepreneurialism in the Haredi sector. The first offers 200 hours of mentoring and expert consulting to help get new startups off the ground. The second offers 85% matching funds to startups founded by Haredi entrepreneurs. “This conference is not only important for the high-tech industry, but to society as a whole,” said Hasson. “There is remarkable human capital in the Haredi community, and we must utilize it. Diversity bolsters innovation, which is the bread and butter of the high-tech industry, and we must enlist new manpower if we are to continue to compete on a global scale.”

“Our goal is to integrate into the high-tech industry without losing the unique character of the Haredi community,” said Yitzik Crombie, co-Chair of the Haredi High-Tech Forum, and founder and CEO of iSale. “This is a process which has been gathering force over the past few years. More and more Haredim are studying at university and integrating into high-tech as engineers, and as entrepreneurs.”

“The time has come to establish more startups within the Haredi community, which will grow into large high-tech companies and employ more and more workers from the sector,” added Racheli Granot, co-Chair of the Haredi High-Tech Forum and the founder and CEO of chip-maker Rachip. “Last year, you could count the number of startups founded by Haredim on one hand. Today, we are talking about dozens.”

The conference featured leading Israeli politicians including MK Yariv Levin (Coalition Whip - Likud) MK Erel Margalit (Labor), MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), and MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), who discussed the steps the Israeli government can take to help improve the integration of the Haredi community into the workforce and in particular, the high-tech ecosystem.

“We in Jerusalem need to open our eyes not only to our centers of excellence in the business sector, but also to our spiritual centers of excellence – namely the ultra-Orthodox Yeshivas – and recognize their central importance to Israeli society,” said Knesset Member Erel Margalit of the Labor Party.

“I represent the Haredi public, and I can say quite clearly, we want to work and we want to advance,” said Knesset Member Gafni during the conference. “Nothing will be accomplished through coercion. Haredim won’t be integrated into the workforce if someone doesn’t integrate them.”