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IBM stirs up startup activity in Israel


Following a rigorous screening process, eight young Israeli companies were given office space at IBM’s Petah Tikva headquarters.




In July, IBM opened its first 24-week Alpha Zone accelerator program, which offers free assistance and support to early-stage Israeli startups.


Following a rigorous screening process, eight young Israeli companies were given office space at IBM’s Petah Tikva headquarters and received complimentary computers, software packages and business services.


Dror Pearl, head of IBM Israel’s Global Technology Unit, which is leading the program, said 100 young startups applied for the Alpha Zone accelerator program.


“These companies rely on high-quality professional teams and have already received seed money,” she said. “All the startups participating in the first Alpha Zone session chose to work in Big Data and cloud computing.”


What’s unique about the IBM program is that it gave preference to companies targeting the corporate market with a focus on Big Data, cloud, cognitive and mobile computing, social networking, e-commerce and the Internet of Things.


This form of cooperation is invaluable for startups that are just reaching first-round financing, usually a $1 million investment designed to jump-start the company.


Shachar Hefetz, the project manager of IBM’s Alpha Zone accelerator program, said the program is searching for additional startups to participate in the next round. Companies have until November 20 to sign up.


Startups in first round of financing


1. Optibus ( has developed advanced mathematical algorithms that help transportation companies organize large amounts of data and optimize time schedules, drivers, rest periods and traffic jams – all within a number of seconds.


Optibus uses cloud computing, which reduces costs considerably, thereby allowing the company to charge between $50 and $100. This is significantly lower than their competitors’ fees.


2. Salead ( offers a networking platform that automates business opportunities between businesses by using a unique semantic text-analysis engine and algorithm, which saves clients from having to carry out time-consuming market research. Salead mainly targets large companies.


3. EGM ( develops grid performance measurement and reporting systems and aims to be part of the Internet of Things, where computing devices will all be connected to one another. EGM develops sensors and real-time “smart grid” intelligence software that are easy to install and provide troubleshooting options for the world’s 21st-century electricity needs.


For example, if a tree branch touches an electric cable, a maintenance team can be dispatched to deal with situation before a power outage occurs.


EGM has already deployed its sensors in a pilot project in China, which has shown that its technology optimizes electrical lines.


4. LeanCiti ( develops Big Data analytics tools that allow utilities companies to analyze information available on social networks pertaining to residents’ electricity, water and gas usage at home. This algorithm can identify patterns and show consumers how to engage with each other and minimize their utility bills. LeanCiti uses this information to optimize the quality of service to residents.


5. Vikisense ( is a startup that develops biometric and progressive technologies for face, vocal and speech recognition. Vikisense products provide solutions in the fields of security, biometrics, public data, marketing and advertising.


6. Emerald Medical Applications ( is developing DermaCompare, a tool that detects skin cancer. The SaaS cloud-based platform provides doctors an inexpensive way to photograph patients’ skin and provide accurate diagnosis and melanoma screening that saves millions of people from contracting skin cancer.


7. Zoomd ( develops technology that understands users’ browsing patterns, intentions and profiles, thereby being able to offer additional sites to users.


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