How Did Jerusalem Become The Epicenter Of Israel’s Flourishing Biotech Startup Ecosystem?

In November 2017, 24 startups from 24 different countries gathered together for #StartJLM, a 5-day immersive innovation experience in Jerusalem, Israel. The conference helped the startups gain momentum for their entrepreneurial journey by connecting them with Israel’s leading tech figures, including top-notch entrepreneurs, investors and domain experts.

But what is an innovation conference is doing in Jerusalem? It’s home to some of the most sacred sites in the entire world and considered a holy city to the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The reality is that the people that live in Jerusalem know the city as much more than just that. Israel’s capital is a vibrant cultural melting pot with bustling nightlife, a booming high tech ecosystem, and an extremely diverse population.

As the capital of Start-Up Nation, it is considered one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the world. Time magazine ranked Jerusalem first among the top five emerging global tech hubs. It’s home to VC giants such as OurCrowd, a leading equity crowdfunding platform for investing in global startups, led by serial entrepreneur and proud Jerusalemite Jon Medved. OurCrowd has raised over $750 million for 160 portfolio companies in 112 countries. Moreover, It is home to life science and biotech giants such as Medinol, Oridion (acquired by Covidien), Omrix (acquired by Covidien) and many others.

StartJLM has provided 20 entrepreneurs from more than 15 countries a unique opportunity to connect and benefit from interaction with prominent local tech leaders in a five-day immersive program (Nov 11–18).

In this sector specifically, Jerusalem has quickly become the center of Israel’s flourishing startup ecosystem. It is home to more than 170 biotech companies, 40% of which are less than five years old. It also boasts the Hadassah Medical Center at Hebrew University, home to more than 40% of bio-technology research conducted in Israel. A large majority of these companies are based in one of the many tech parks, incubators and accelerators located across the city.

One of these accelerators, MassChallenge, is located less than a 5 minute walk from the Mahane Yehuda market, where you will find yourself browsing the 250+ fruit and vegetable stalls in pursuit of the freshest ingredients locally grown in Israel. After the sun sets on the City of Gold, seemingly out of nowhere, many of these stalls turn into small bars as aspiring musicians play live music for passersby.

Just a few months ago, the Jerusalem Affairs Ministry along with the Jerusalem Development Authority chose the LR Group, an operator and manager of projects in the field of agriculture, water and health, to set up a new $130 million Jerusalem Biotech Fund. The fund will invest in life-sciences companies that do research and development or production activity that is based in Jerusalem.

Because Jerusalem is such an exciting place for entrepreneurs and has such a rich multicultural energy, we created StartJLM: A unique environment for creators and innovators to connect and bring their world-changing ideas to fruition. We wanted to bring together innovative, early-stage startup founders from around the globe to explore and experience Jerusalem’s vibrant startup ecosystem.

This year, we have provided 20 entrepreneurs from more than15 countries a unique opportunity to connect and benefit from interaction with prominent local tech leaders in a five-day immersive program (Nov 11–18), featuring interactive fireside chats and panels, specially designed how-to workshops, site visits at leading companies and exclusive networking meet-ups with the city’s start-up community. The program is running for the second year now after a phenomenal success last year. In addition, the participants will experience the mythical City of Jerusalem and the abundance it has to offer tourists in almost every aspect:culture, history and vibrant night scene. This year there will be an emphasis on life sciences startups (Medical Devices, Digital Health and BioTech) the most prominent sector dominating the Jerusalem startup industry.

Want to know more? Stay updated with our blog, Facebook, and Twitter feeds to keep up with the conference. Use the hashtag #StartJLM when posting about your adventures in Jerusalem!