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TechnoArt lays claim to being the first technology incubator in the world devoted to developing new technologies related to the world of art, music, video and dance.
Based in Tel Aviv, it offers entrepreneurs an accelerator programme which includes three months of training in business, technology and art.
Its partners include payment service PayPal and professional services company Deloitte, as well as prominent people in the Israeli media scene – including Ronnie Brown, CEO of the Israeli record label Helicon Records.
They see themselves committed to the connection between art and technology, enabling developers to create technology platforms and products and to develop new business models.
The incubator offers startups the use of mentors with extensive experience in their field of the arts, such as cinema, games, video, music or dance.
The mentors include notable Israeli artists, including actor Ohad Knoller, choreographer and performer Renana Raz, and musician Yossi Sassi, former guitarist of Israeli metal band Orphaned Land who now has a successful solo career.
“The connection between art, culture and technology is inherent, since culture is shaped by technology and vice versa,” Sassi tells Computer Weekly.
“The artist and entrepreneur are more alike than they think. Both are investing a lot of energy and passion in the next big thing, aspiring to create something meaningful for others, that will excite and enrich our lives,” he adds.
Lev Kerzhner, one of the participants in the TechnoArt programme, is the entrepreneur behind JamRoom – an application that connects musicians and rehearsal studios.
As a musician, Kerzhner had to book rehearsal rooms every day, sometimes at the last minute, and realised technology could make the process much easier.
“We felt that TechnoArt's vision – the connection between music, art and technological entrepreneurship – was very true for us as a company, and the added value of which is difficult to find in programmes available on the market,” he says.
Kerzhner benefited from feedback from Deloitte on market research, as well as business advice from TecnoArt's CEO Shani Peled and the insight and enthusiasm of Sassi.
“That helped me as an entrepreneur about to leap ahead with his company,” he says.
If TechnoArt is very characteristic of the bohemian mindset in Tel Aviv, MindCET – which is run by the Center for Educational Technology (CET) – takes a more conventional approach.
Established in 1971, CET is a non-profit organisation which aims to combine technology and education for students, from preschool to high school.
MindCET was created in 2012 as an innovation centre to develop breakthrough technologies in education, and bring together entrepreneurs, researchers and educators.
According to MindCET director Tamar Haramati, the goal is “to reduce the gap between high-tech, entrepreneurship and education”.
The centre is designed for entrepreneurs with startups that overlap between technology, learning and education.
“Our main differentiation is our focus in the world of learning, and our unique approach allows developers to access users and testers of their products. We have contacts with many teachers and schools, and we enable developers to do usability testing and pilot tests to their products, already in their most early stages,” says Haramati.
MindCET has operations in Tel Aviv as well as Yeruham, a small town of around 9,000 people in the middle of the Negev desert in southern Israel. Once a struggling settlement, it now seems to be reaching a turning point, reckons Haramati.
Projects include CodeMonkey, which teaches kids how to code, and MobiLesson, which operates a mobile-based platform for companies that need to distribute training content to employees who do not have access to a desktop computer.