SME4SMARTCITIES partners met in Tel Aviv to discuss solutions on solving Mediterranean challenges

Over the 3-year course of the SME4SMARTCITIES project, the consortium partners maintained a strict schedule of meeting online every month, to coordinate and to discuss the activities that were conducted by all partners simultaneously, and 2 annual physical Steering Committee meetings, hosted in turn by the partners.

The 2nd steering committee meeting in 2020 was planned to take place in Israel, hosted by Tel Aviv University, but the COVID-19 crisis and the restrictions of travel has turned it into a virtual meeting.

During the COVID-19 crisis, there were difficulties reaching municipalities that were struggling with the COVID pandemic but project activities continued nevertheless under these circumstances. After the COVID-19 crisis ended, it was time to meet again and conduct the Steering Committee meeting in Tel Aviv.

The SME4SMARTCITIES partners met for 2 days on the 1st of March 2023. The first day was dedicated to visits of innovation centers and SMEs, to meet and study up close the innovation and start-up ecosystem in Israel. Tel Aviv was ranked fifth place in the world in the annual survey of most attractive ecosystems for startups and innovation by research firm Startup Genome, moving up two spots from seventh place in 2021 to fifth in 2022.

The Startup Genome global study mapped the global startup industry across more than 140 ecosystems, with data on 3.5 million startups. The higher the ranking, the better is the probability of an early-stage startup at building global success.

The SME4SMARTCITIES consortium partners visited Start Up Nation Central, a non-profit organization that connects Israeli innovation to the world to help international entities solve global challenges. Start Up Nation Central manages a large directory of Israeli SMEs across many application areas, that is a great tool to explore the Israeli Tech ecosystem and find information about thousands of start-up companies – Start-Up Nation Finder. They met with Idit Podoler Reuveny, Business Development Manager.  Idit presented the ecosystem and discussed the importance of urban collaboration to develop an SME innovation ecosystem.

Image: Meeting with Idit Podoler Reuveny, Business Development Manager at Start Up Nation Central

On a short walk from the Start Up Nation Central offices in the old center of Tel Aviv, is the Abraham’s Hostel building, a low-cost hotel in a renovated building. On a roof area of this building, Adi Sholev, founder and CEO of startup Urban Daisy and a Women for Climate Entrepreneur, created a green and blue roof – a haven of greenery surrounded by corporate buildings, a garden and an open bar for visitors. Adi Sholev met with the SME4SMARTCITIES consortium partners and unfolded the experience of the co-creation initiative with the Tel-Aviv-Yafo municipality and Abraham’s Hostel management.

Image: Meeting with Adi Sholev, founder and CEO of Urban Daisy on the green and blue roof she created in Abraham’s Hostel in the old center of Tel Aviv.

From the inspiring roof of Abraham’s Hostel, the study visit continued to The Platform Center – a municipal social-urban entrepreneurship center in a restored old bus station building in an underdeveloped area. The Platform connects residents, social and technological entrepreneurs, companies, and organizations with the aim of generating solutions, testing, and implementing them in the urban space with the cooperation of all stakeholders. It provides workspaces, training and workshops, and a meeting place for local entrepreneurs. The Platform Center is an opportunity to study and experience the actual engagement of budding entrepreneurs, SMEs and Municipal collaboration in a social context in an area of mostly low-income residents.

Image: Daniela Slonim, manager of The Platform municipal social-urban entrepreneurship center, explains the goals and activities of the center

On the 2nd day of the Steering Committee meetings, a series of meetings were conducted at the Department of Environmental Studies at the Porter building at Tel Aviv University, to discuss the ongoing activities, the toolboxes under development, updates on the Solutions co-creation, development, and testing with the SME sub-grantees and other deliverables. The Joint Technical Secretariat has also attended the meeting.

Image: SME4SMARTCITIES Steering Committee meeting at the Department of Environmental Studies, Porter Building, Tel Aviv University

At a break in the meetings, the project partners met with Prof. Oded Potcher, an expert on urban heat islands and a product development mentor in the SME4SMARTCITIES project and with Ofer Keren, CEO of Keren Energy and a participating SME in the program, who guided together an urban heat tour at the Tel Aviv University campus. Using sensors for temperature and humidity, the partners took measurements at different locations and experienced the impact of heat at different settings in the city space.