Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (TASE: BEZQ) is adding itself to the list of partners in the 8200 Social Program managed by Adv. Neta-Li Meiri. She told "Globes," "The purpose of the program is to promote technological ventures designed to solve social problems. We are eclectic in the spheres of our activity and willing to accept any venture, as long as it solves a sufficiently important social problem."
The accelerator was founded in 2013 with 33 ventures in three classes. Registration for the next class is scheduled to close on October 15. Following a selection process, 10 ventures will be chosen to participate in the five-month program. Meiri notes that the overriding goal is to aid progress in Israeli society, but adds, "It's easy to copy these solutions for other countries, and we're also working in other countries."
Bezeq will provide entrepreneurs with advice from mentors, networking, and financing that will include, among other things, use of Bezeq's communications services worth NIS 1,000 a month. "The partnership with Bezeq originated in the company's wish to promote the idea of corporate responsibility," Meiri says.
Meiri adds that 60% of the entrepreneurs who took part in the most recent class of the program are women – a exceptional figure for the high-tech industry. She says, "From the viewpoint of the partners, they aren't just sponsors. They regard themselves as partners accompanying it during the entire year. They participate in board meetings, are part of the selection committee, host days of the program, provide hours of consultation for entrepreneurs, and work with them closely.
The accelerator is a non-profit venture. It accepts non-profit organizations to its ranks, but also startups. "It doesn't matter to us whether or not a venture is for profit," Meiri explains. "What's important to us is whether it involves a social problem with no current solution, and how well the entrepreneur(s) know the world in which they're operating. Another aspect that we check is economic, technological, and social viability."
Three prominent ventures that participated in the accelerator in the past are She Codes, EyeControl, and Voiceitt. She Codes is a non-profit society for encouraging girls and women to take up programming. Eye Control is a venture that helps ALS and other patients trapped in their bodies to communicate with their surroundings. ALS patients gradually lose the ability to communicate with their surroundings, and EyeControl enables them to use eye movements and winks to express themselves. Voiceitt helps people suffering from speech defects.
Bezeq CEO Stella Handler said, "The plan for helping startups is closely connected to values that Bezeq promotes, including support for and promotion of technology, while narrowing digital and social gaps (social tech). This is not Bezeq's first cooperative effort with 8200 graduates, whose members include the most talented young brains in technology. I have no doubt that the results that will be achieved in the accelerator will make the technological possibilities in them accessible to the general public."
8200 is the IDF's signals intelligence unit.
C. Mer Industries Ltd. (TASE: CMER) CEO and 8200 Alumni Association chairman Nir Lempert says, "The Social Program of the 8200 Alumni Association is proud and glad to begin a partnership with Bezeq. Bezeq is an important partner at the added value level in its ability to help the startups participating in the program that are helping us to make society a better place."
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on September 17, 2017
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