Start-Up Nation Central appoints Avi Hasson as new CEO

Hasson, a veteran of two leading Israeli venture capital firms, served as Israel’s Chief Scientist and Founding Chair of the Israel Innovation Authority.

Hasson joins Start-Up Nation Central at a time of diplomatic breakthroughs and growing international interest in Israeli technology – driven in part by Israeli innovation throughout the pandemic and beyond.

July 14, 2021 — Tel Aviv, Israel —
Start-Up Nation Central, the independent not-for-profit organization connecting global corporations, investors, and governments to the Israeli tech innovation ecosystem, today announced the appointment of Avi Hasson as its next Chief Executive Officer.

Hasson’s career spans executive leadership roles in the business, technology, and not-for-profit sectors. He served as Chief Scientist at Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry, and as Founding Chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), the government entity tasked with planning and executing innovation policy in Israel. Prior to his government service, Hasson was a General Partner at Gemini Israel Funds, one of Israel’s top venture capital firms. Upon leaving his position at the IIA in 2017, he joined early-stage venture firm Emerge as a General Partner, and serves on the board of Tower Semiconductor (NASDAQ: TSEM) – the leading foundry of high value analog semiconductor solutions.

In addition to his long record of public service, Avi has distinguished himself as a leader with some of Israel’s most important not-for-profit organizations. He serves on the board of the Sheba Medical Center, SpaceIL – an organization promoting scientific and tech education with the aim of landing the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon – and the Israel Tech Challenge, which offers tech-training programs to address Israel’s industry-wide tech talent shortage.

Hasson will build on his vast experience at the nexus of private, public, and NGO investment in Israeli innovation to advance Start-Up Nation Central’s mission of amplifying Israel’s position as a leader in global innovation.

The announcement comes at an important moment for the Israeli tech ecosystem:

  1. Significant Growth in Tech Ecosystem: According to data by Start-Up Nation Finder, Israel is among the leading countries in tech investment growth with a 152% year-over-year increase in the first six months of the year, compared to global investment growth of 112% over the same period. As of today, Israeli startups have raised 38 mega-rounds this year, having eclipsed the 21 mega-rounds raised in 2020 in less than six months. Furthermore, there have been 39 IPOs and 4 SPACs so far compared to 21 IPOs in all of 2020 and 12 in 2019. 
  2. Human Capital Challenges and Opportunities: As documented by Start-Up Nation Central in a joint report with the Israeli Innovation Authority, the shortage in skilled tech talent poses a major challenge for Israel’s innovation ecosystem. Start-Up Nation Central and its affiliated research and policy institute are poised to assist decision-makers to address this and other challenges across the Israeli innovation sector.
  3. The Abraham Accords Opportunity: The historic Abraham Accords have ushered in a new era of opportunity for the region. Start-Up Nation Central is well-positioned to connect governments and ecosystems, serving as a central connecter of participating nations around tech-based innovation. In April, the first UAE Ambassador to Israel, His Excellency Mohamed Al Khaja, joined with Start-Up Nation Central to launch a task-force focused on advancing collaboration between the Israeli and Emirati tech ecosystems. Earlier this week, the UAE Minister of State for Food and Water Security, Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Al Mheiri also visited Start-Up Nation Central, accompanied by the ambassador, as part of her first official visit to Israel and announced a joint framework to address shared food and water security challenges. In parallel, Start-Up Nation Central has begun working with partners in the UAE and Bahrain to build key relationships.

Terry Kassel, Chair of the Start-Up Nation Central Board of Directors, said: “We are proud to welcome Avi Hasson to lead Start-Up Nation Central. Avi spent nearly three decades in various roles as a leader in the Israeli innovation ecosystem. He is uniquely suited to lead Start-Up Nation Central’s work expanding the impact of Israeli innovation domestically, with new partners in the region, and around the world. In the wake of a global pandemic and major diplomatic breakthroughs, governments and corporate leaders are looking to Israel more than ever for solutions to their most urgent challenges. Start-Up Nation Central is prepared to meet this need under Avi’s leadership and strategic vision.”

Avi Hasson, incoming CEO of Start-Up Nation Central, commented: “There could be no better time to join Start-Up Nation Central than now – with the Israeli tech ecosystem bursting with unprecedented potential. Start-Up Nation Central does essential work advancing innovation locally and exporting innovation globally, and it is a great privilege to be taking on this new role. I look forward to working with the team at Start-Up Nation Central to leverage the organization’s formidable relationships, track record, and platform to grow the impact and reach of Israeli innovation.”

Avi Hasson will assume the position on September 1st, 2021.

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Avi Hasson has served as the Israeli government’s Chief Scientist and was the initiator and chair of the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), ultimately leading the strategic and organizational transformation from the Office of Chief Scientist to the new entity, which he continued to lead.

After his departure from public service, Hasson became a  Partner in Emerge Venture Capital firm.

Prior to his government position, Hasson was a General Partner at Gemini Israel Funds—one of Israel’s top venture capital firms, where he managed the fund’s investments in the fields of communications, storage and consumer electronics.

Earlier in his career, Hasson spent nearly a decade leading telecom technology companies such as ECI Telecom, ECTel and Tadiran systems, where he held executive roles spanning product management, marketing and business development.

Hasson is a graduate of the IDF’s prestigious HAMAN-TALPIOT program and served as an intelligence officer in the elite 8200 unit.

Hasson’s social impact activities include serving as board member of Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer (selected as one of the top-10 hospitals in the world); as board member of SpaceIL, an NGO promoting scientific and technological education in Israel around the task of landing Israel’s first spacecraft, “Beresheet,” on the moon; and as board member at the Israel Tech Challenge (ITC), an NGO that addresses talent shortages in the tech industry by enabling selected professionals of all ages and backgrounds to train with Israel’s best-performing tech companies.

Hasson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Middle Eastern Studies, as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, from Tel Aviv University.

About Start-Up Nation Central

Start-Up Nation Central is the address for corporations, governments and investors to connect with the Israeli tech ecosystem. Start-Up Nation Central catalyzes growth opportunities by bringing Israeli tech innovation to global business and societal challenges. Established in 2013 and headquartered in Tel-Aviv, Israel, Start-Up Nation Central is a not-for-profit organization funded by philanthropy.  

About Start-Up Nation Finder

Start-Up Nation Finder is a free online platform for identifying and engaging Israeli tech organizations based on customers’ specific interests. This Innovation Business Platform is a comprehensive knowledge hub on Israeli start-ups, investors, acceleration hubs, multinational corporations, and technology-based innovation associated with academic research. The open-source platform provides up-to-date information and insights on thousands of active Israeli tech companies.

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