Lessons from the Startup Nation: Innovation & Entrepreneurship at TAU
Explore Entrepreneurial Activities Offered on Campus
· About 50 percent of employees in Tel Aviv startups are graduates of Tel Aviv University (TAU)
· TAU is one of the best places in the world to study innovation and entrepreneurship
· Ranked by Stanford University as the number one university outside of the U.S. for producing unicorn startups.
· Ranked by global research firm PitchBook as seventh in the world, and the first outside the United States, for graduates who have created venture-capital backed companies
Tel Aviv-Yafo is a major center for innovation and entrepreneurship. The city has the highest number of startups per capita in the world, and, according the 2023 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, the Tel Aviv startup ecosystem is the fifth best in the world. These days, it is hard to separate TAU from the Tel Aviv tech ecosystem.
The Startup and High-Tech Ecosystem at TAU
By offering unique programs, services and opportunities at all levels, TAU connects into this wider ecosystem. For instance, TAU runs courses in innovation and entrepreneurship across its nine faculties, as well as degrees and programs in English, such as the Sofaer Global MBA and the new Tel Aviv Online MBA, and the International BA in Management and Liberal Arts.
Aharon Blecher says that after doing his research the decision to join the International BA in Management and Liberal Arts program was easy: "I talked to VCs, managers from the tech world … everyone I talked to said that students from TAU have the qualities they’re looking for … it just kept coming up."
Larry Noik is currently enrolled in TAU’s Sofaer Global MBA program and enjoying it:
"Throughout the program we’ve been introduced to VCs, to founders, we’ve gone to pitching competitions and hackathons, and we’ve really studied how to start a business. Our program is very focused on entrepreneurship and starting businesses. I’ve loved every aspect of it so far."
According to Professor Moshe Zviran, TAU’s Chief Entrepreneurship and Innovation Officer, TAU is following through on President Ariel Porat’s vision to become Israel’s premier university for entrepreneurship and innovation by providing a whole ecosystem at TAU. "We’re here to be the leading organization in terms of promoting entrepreneurship academically and practically."
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Supports
Zviran, who is responsible for overseeing entrepreneurship and innovation at the University, says that, in general, entrepreneurial activities on campus are offered according to four tiers: training for students; experiential learning and pre-accelerator activities; helping existing enterprises to improve and incubation support; and startup competitions.
Regarding the first tier, training for students, Zviran says TAU intentionally made for-credit courses in entrepreneurship available to all students, regardless of whether students are majoring in engineering, computer science, dentistry or Hebrew literature.
As for the second tier, it is focused more on helping students to gain experience with setting up a venture, from ideation to market research to building initial business plans and pitching to investors. Offered kind of like a pre-accelerator, these opportunities are currently available as part of the curriculum with the Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Law and Faculty of Management, and in the future will be offered to other faculties, too.
Additionally, jumpTAU – one of the leading accelerator programs in Israel – allows students to apply as teams to build solutions to market problems. So far, the first three cycles of the jumpTAU program have raised $150 million.
The third tier of offerings is focused on existing enterprises and providing mentorship and tools for improvement. These opportunities are available to recent graduates, and the center provides participating teams with a range of professional, financial, legal, budgetary, regulatory and incubation supports. This is partly done through the recently formed Dan Launchpad, which helps TAU alumni create individual growth plans for new startups, while also expanding their professional networks and maximizing potential.
TAU offers a variety of competitions, both through the TAU Ventures fund, and through the Coller School of Management. The Coller Startup Competition was launched seven years ago and has three channels: ventures focused on digital transformation, deeptech and foodtech. Each first-prize winner gets an investment of $100,000 towards their venture.
"We want to provide every TAU student and alumnus with the opportunity to excel in entrepreneurship," says Zviran. "That means being really proactive in promoting opportunities and programs at every level."
Entrepreneurship vs Innovation at TAU
Zviran emphasizes that neither entrepreneurship nor innovation are disciplines unto themselves. Instead, innovation is about coming up with new ideas and solutions, while entrepreneurship is all about creating a new business or monetizing on innovative ideas.
"We’re here to close the loop and to help broaden the scope of learning and education at TAU for the job market."
In other words, entrepreneurship and innovation don’t necessarily function only in relation to each other, but in relation to other areas of core training – like the degrees gained through the University’s core disciplines, like physics, mathematics, engineering and liberal arts.
Interested in studying in English at TAU? Check out our full list of programs and degrees.