Intel announced the launch on Sunday of a new accelerator program in Israel for early-stage startups focused on data-centric tech, including artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems.
Called “Ignite,” the program will be based in Tel Aviv and will “leverage Intel’s global market access, business, and technology leadership to provide early-stage startups [with a] unique advantage on their path to disrupt the future,” the tech giant said.
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The accelerator program will host between 10-15 pre-seed to seed startups for five months, where they will receive mentorship from Intel and industry experts in a variety of product, business, and management and technical areas. Intel said it has no plans to seek equity in or rights to IP from these companies.
“Intel has always worked in concert with open ecosystems to scale new technologies so they can be transformational for our customers, business and society,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan, who was in Israel this week for the announcement.
“Israel has the deep skill base in AI, autonomous systems and the underlying technologies critical to these infections that make it a natural choice to launch our Ignite program,” he added.
The Ignite program will be headed by Tzahi (Zack) Weisfeld, former global head of Microsoft for Startups, who will serve as general-manager and managing-director of Ignite, and is set to begin later this year with plans to expand to other countries over time.
Intel said that diversity will be a focus of the accelerator program and “will be an important guiding principle of Ignite, with startups established, owned and run by different representatives of Israel’s diversified social mix.”
“As Israel’s largest high tech company, we want to support the major technological changes emerging across our start-up community,” said Yaniv Garty, general manager of Intel Israel.
“Ignite is an important step in this direction, focused on our efforts to transform the world through working on innovations in AI, autonomous, cyber and next-generation computing. With our advances in these areas, Intel is positioned to help companies charge forward. I’m confident that Intel’s unique expertise in hardware, software, and manufacturing will help the startups grow and succeed,” he added.
Intel employs about 11,000 people in Israel and another 1,000 from Jerusalem-based Mobileye which is acquired in 2017 for $15.3 billion. It is considered the largest employer in the high-tech sector.
Last year, Intel said it would invest some $5 billion by 2020 to double its manufacturing operations in Israel.
Since it began operations in Israel in 1974, Intel indicates that its investment in the Israeli economy has totaled $35 billion so far. The company has several sites across Israel, including the manufacturing site in Kiryat Gat, the development center in Haifa, the design and development center in Petach Tikva for the development of components and software in the cellular communications market, and a design and development center in Yakum in central Israel which provides chipsets for mobile platforms.