Posted by: xplainblog | August 11, 2010

Yozmot Haemek – The Technological Incubator at Migdal Haemek

As we described in our previous post, Israel has a vigorous technology incubator program. Starting with this post, we will highlight incubators located in Northern Israel.

Today’s post features the Yozmot Haemek Incubator in Migdal Haemek. To learn more about the incubator we interviewed Dr. Amnon Weichselbaum who is the New Projects Manager for the incubator. In addition to his administrative position, Amnon brings a unique perspective to his work because he has also founded two companies in the incubator, one of which (Fertillegent) has already produced a commercialized product.

What follows is a summary of our discussion.

Q: If I am an entrepreneur living in the North I can choose from several incubators. How do I choose in which incubator I want to set up my company?

A: I would advise you to visit the incubators that you are considering. How are the facilities? Do you feel good chemistry with the people there? What is their success rate in having projects approved? How many of their projects have gone on to be successful companies? In addition some incubators specialize in certain types of technologies. For instance, our incubator places an emphasis on medical device companies.

Q: How does this help an entrepreneur who wishes to develop a medical device?

A: We know the field. We know the process from a technological, IP and regulatory standpoint and also know investors who are interested in investing in medical devices.

Q: What is the process that someone with an idea has to follow to set up a company in the incubator?

A: After deciding which incubator you would like to work with, you meet with them and present your idea to an internal committee. If they approve the project they help you fill out the forms which must be submitted to the incubators administration, the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Industry Trade and Labor

They then send a representative to interview the entrepreneur and write an appraisal. We go with the entrepreneur to meet with a 12-member committee who decide on the spot whether or not to OK the project. If the project is approved the Chief Scientist provides $350,000 and the incubator and entrepreneur must provide an additional $100,000. This is meant to last for approximately two years.

Q: What happens during those two years?

A: Especially in the medical device field, it is unrealistic to expect a market-ready device to be developed in two years. However, we expect to see a fully developed prototype and Proof of Concept. The company should be at a stage where it is able to attract outside investors.

Q: What does the incubator provide the entrepreneur?

A: In general, our goal is to allow the entrepreneur concentrate on developing their idea from the technological as well as the business development point of view while we take care of all the rest. We provide a physical space, utilities, cleaning, bookkeeping, and secretarial services. In addition we can recommend subcontractors, put them in touch with investors, and are always available for providing advice.

Q: What happens after two years?

A: After approximately two years the company is expected to be able to attract outside investors and to move out of the incubator. In some cases additional funding can be provided by the Chief Scientist for an additional year within the framework of the incubator . If the company is not viable it closes.

Q: Do you stay in touch with companies after they leave the incubator?

A: Yes. We sit on the board of directors and retain our shares for a certain period after the company leaves the incubator.

To view the second half of this two-part interview click here.

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