Where military smarts morph into startupsFeb. 2, 2015
Israel is a country in which military service is associated as much with advanced technology as it is with warfare. This is particularly true in the IDF’s Intelligence Corps, most notably Unit 8200, which is responsible for collecting signal intelligence and code decryption.
Because so many 8200 veterans spend their army years thinking outside the box and wind up in the highest echelons of high-tech, this unit has become virtually synonymous with the term “startup nation.” And for four years running, there has been a startup accelerator named after it.
8200 EISP (Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Program) is the first and only accelerator in Israel that is a non-profit organization.
Though established in 2010 by the 8200 Alumni Association, the accelerator is aimed at cultivating what program manager Guy Katsovich calls “Israeli innovators of all stripes, not only those who served in 8200, or even in the army at all, such as Arabs and haredim [ultra-Orthodox Jews]. Only 20 percent of the people who have gone through the program are 8200 alumni.”
He is also proud to point out that 30% of the program’s graduates are women, “which is higher than the overall benchmark in the business.”
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