StartupBlink Blog

With a population of 26,000 this city has an inspiring history, only 20 years ago this small northern town of Israel was considered a priority zone. Concern was growing about the drain of the talent and some feared the city would never recover. 

Today it has transformed itself into an industrial hub with a high concentration of companies that develop technologies which require long term R&D, such as medical devices, semiconductors, and network infrastructure.

A new entry in the StartupBlink Startup Ecosystem Ranking Report, Yokneam has found itself a position as 296th. 

Yokneam startup ecosystem

For Yokneam’s rankings in the Startup Blink Global map click here

Unique Ecosystem Advantages:

  • 3 time winner of the national Education Award 
  • 4 time winner of the national Green City award 
  • Percentage of academics in Yokneam’s population was second only to Tel Aviv.

Overview of Yokneam’s Startup Ecosystem 

Yokneam, and its inspiring case study, are placed at 296th position according to the  StartupBlink Startup Ecosystem Ranking Report.  A small town relatively far from other cities in Israel managed to use the tax benefits it received in a cost-efficient way to create a strong hub. It is a case that should be studied by ecosystem stakeholders in other towns looking to grow, creating an example of improving a local economy. 

A technology hub centre in Israel, Yokneam is constantly looking at reinventing itself to improve educational, cultural and economic opportunities and is becoming a successful and supportive startup ecosystem and ranks well on the StartupBlink Startup Ecosystem Ranking Report

What gives Yokneam a competitive advantage? 

The municipality of Yokneam offers one of the most inspiring stories of a small town making a strong impact. Just 20 years ago, the city was considered a priority zone; there was concern that the brain drain of local talent would never end. The mayor fought for as many benefits as possible and established a highly advanced technology park against all odds. This led to the production of Yokneam’s first unicorn exit in 2019 (Mellanox, sold to Nvidia for 6.9$ billion in 2019).  

Yokneam is home to a high concentration of companies that develop and design complicated technologies such as medical devices, semiconductors, and network infrastructure. Strategically positioned within 20 minutes of two of the most prestigious universities in Israel: Technicon and Haifa university, Yokneam attracts a young, entrepreneurial and educated population. 

The higher quality of life and lower costs of living attracts many entrepreneurs different to those moving to Tel Aviv. Thanks to it not being a major urban area Yokneam is  24% cheaper than living in London. This city is an ideal location for those looking for a strong economy, industrial prospects and talented workforce. As well as hosting a promising industrial and entrepreneurial hub, Yokneam is one of the greenest cities in Israel with 65% of the city area covered in parks, forests and streams. 

Industry and Investment

Yokneam is a National Priority A area which increases the amounts of grants and funding available via the Israeli Innovation Authority, and reduces the requirements needed to receive that funding. 

Yokneam has four incubators (Alon MedTech Ventures, TerraLab Ventures, Youdim Pharmaceuticals, and CoLab Square) and two Co-Working spaces (Open Valley and Pitch) with mentoring and business development support. The city also has an Innovation Visas Program for Foreign Entrepreneurs that aim to assist foreign entrepreneurs with the visa process for coming to Israel.

Response to COVID-19 

Israel adopted similar restrictions and preventative measures as most other countries, including lockdowns, social distancing and travel restrictions. The small size and population of Yokneam means that the population could still enjoy the outdoors and green areas. The lifestyle remained peaceful, however, like most places businesses were hit harder. Due to strong internet and excellent support systems the hope is that Yokneam will recover quickly from the Pandemic. 

Promising Startups

Intsite – INTSITE employs AI and Deep Learning to optimize and automate the machinery at the center of a worksite, transforming the performance of industries focused on heavy machinery, amongst construction, mining and container ports.

SolAround – SolAround develops high-power high-efficiency bifacial p-Si PERT solar cells and modules. Set to revolutionize the world of renewable solar energy  SolAround’s solar PV cell will be an energy cost efficiency game changer for solar enterprise companies. 

Neurolief – Neurolief has developed a breakthrough non-invasive Brain Neuromodulation Technology with the goal of bringing relief to neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. The Relivion® technology and product provides effective treatment without risks and costs associated with invasive procedures. 

Spectalix – Mobile app technology separating people from their background in live video and placing them in branded scenes for ultimate user engagement.

Field In – Field In provides actionable, easy-to-use data at every stage of the growing cycle. From field scouting and spray planning, to the execution of harvest and other cultural practices, Field Ins analytics and insights provide transparency creating and efficient operation.

Public Investment  Initiatives

Yokneam is a National Priority A area which increases the amounts of grants and funding available via the Israeli Innovation Authority, and reduces the requirements needed to receive that funding. 

Israeli Innovation Authority – National authority, financially supporting entrepreneurs and startups. With a wide variety of initiatives to create supportive and successful startup ecosystems across Israel.

Visas by the Israeli Innovation Authority –  Assists foreign entrepreneurs with the visa process alongside TheHive Ashdod accelerator. 

MaofTech – A nationwide technology acceleration program initiated by the Israeli Small and Medium Enterprise Agency. 

Accelerators and Coworkings

Alon MedTech Ventures – Alon MedTech is active in the initiation and growth of young high-tech companies in the medical device arena. Alon MedTech is engaged with novel technologies that improve human well-being and quality of life, focusing on making a difference to the lives of others. 

TerraLab Ventures – An early stage venture capital firm dedicated to partnering with inspiring entrepreneurs to build breakthrough companies. TerraLab invests in emerging and innovative technologies which hold the potential to influence millions of lives. With a strong support program TerraLab provides support from inception to commercialization.

Youdim Pharmaceuticals – An innovative pharmaceutical company and incubator inspired by the life achievements and reputation of Prof. Moussa Youdim. Youdim Pharmaceuticals specializes in the development of therapeutic and diagnostic solutions in the areas of neurological disorders and cancer.

Open Valley – The OpenValley network offers inspirational coworking spaces for entrepreneurs, startups and innovation pioneers, creating co-operations and partnerships through networking and mentoring and providing assistance with business development and funding processes.

Pitch – A coworking space focused in providing entrepreneurs, small business and startup companies with comfortable working spaces. Providing comfortable and quality spaces the Pitch includes plenty of equipment that might be necessary. 

Key Organizations

Yokneam Startup Village – Focused on providing and support to small, startup companies in Israel’s fastest growing startup ecosystem. Startup Village Yokneam is Israel’s Alternative High Tech Ecosystem with nearly 150 different companies involved in R&D and roughly $7 billion in technology exports annually. 

CoLab Square – Colab Square provides life-science companies with the entire infrastructure they need in order to start working toward their core R&D objectives. CoLab Square provides companies with support and all the materials necessary for a startup to launch, this includes  office spaces, equipment, complementary services, processes and certifications.

Startup Summary

Balancing both an entrepreneurial hub paired with good life quality Yokneam is an excellent place for entrepreneurs looking for a unique environment with strong support systems in place and the promise of accessibility and funding. 

Overall this small northern city is an example of how perseverance and innovation can transform a city into a buzzing startup ecosystem. 

For more information on startup ecosystems download the Startup Blink Global Report