SHARON UDASIN 10/21/2014

Program to operate with goal of encouraging start-ups to engage in the fields of intelligent transportation and alternative fuels.

With the goal of encouraging start-ups to engage in the fields of intelligent transportation and alternative fuels, the National Research Institute for Transportation Innovation at Tel Aviv University will soon be launching an accelerator program for relevant entrepreneurs.

The accelerator, which is expected to open in its first round in December, will be part of the brand new institute – which was established only in August by the university, in collaboration with the Alternative Fuels Administration of the Prime Minister’s Office. Because the multidisciplinary institute operates under the joint umbrella of the Porter School of Environmental Studies and the Faculty of Engineering at TAU, entrepreneurs participating in the four- to six-month accelerator programs will be housed in a shared work space in the university’s “capsule” building – the new home of the Porter School.

“From the university’s perspective, this is a unique experiment in joining hands with Israeli start-up industries, incorporating the best of the academic world with the best of hi-tech entrepreneurship,” said Prof. Dan Rabinowitz, head of the Porter School of Environmental Studies as well as the Institute for Transportation Innovation.

The budget for the program is expected to be about NIS 1 million annually, and will be implemented in cooperation with EcoMotion, an Israel-based global community of entrepreneurs in the smart transportation industry.

During their time at the accelerator, each entrepreneurial team will receive financial support of about NIS 100,000 in cash, as well as consulting services from experts in business, technology and the automotive industry. Support for the program will come from local investors, experienced entrepreneurs. academics, local authorities and both local and international companies, according to the accelerator’s founders.

Ultimately, the goal is to guide entrepreneurs through the first stages of their activities and help them acquire their first outside investments at the end of the program, the founders explained.

“The accelerator is designed to try to cope with the lack of infrastructure supporting the realization of unique ideas in the field of intelligent transportation, and is a direct continuation of the community’s activities,” said Boaz Mamo, director of EcoMotion. “I have no doubt that this development of infrastructure, which will serve about 10 entrepreneurs per year within the framework of a physical accelerator, and several dozens of projects in a virtual cycle, is needed due to the activities of the community for the past two years, and will help us realize and strengthen ideas, while attracting new entrepreneurs to the field.”

Eyal Rosner, director of the Alternative Fuels Administration in the Prime Minister’s Office, emphasized how the accelerator’s launch will contribute to Israel’s overall goal of becoming a hub of innovation for the fuel substitutes industry. The Alternative Fuels Administration began operating in 2011, partnering with 10 ministries to help make Israel a global hub of knowledge in the industry, in addition to increasing the use of oil substitutes by 60 percent in 2025.

“The establishment of the accelerator is an additional step of the Alternative Fuels Administration in building up the capacity of Israel, which will enable in the future global leadership in the fields of transportation innovation and alternative solutions to oil,” Rosner said.