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The hottest startups in Tel Aviv

Year in and year out, Tel Aviv’s startup community has proven that it can achieve more than whole countries within its 52km2, thanks to investment in world-class research facilities, robust government support, and an ever-reliable influx of investment from within and abroad totalling $9.93 billion in 2020. In the first three months of 2021, nine Israeli startups reached unicorn status – more than any country in Europe – compared to 15 in all of 2020, and 12 in 2019.

Tel Aviv has long been known as a place where founders have built innovative companies in verticals such as fintech and cybersecurity. But increasingly, entrepreneurs are growing startups in so-called “deep tech” – technologies based on scientific and engineering breakthroughs.


“The fundamentals of education, training and practice of surgery haven't really changed since the 1600s,” says Theator CEO Tamir Wolf. “It's an apprenticeship model, so ultimately the set of experiences that you learn from vary greatly from one place to another.”

Wolf launched Theator with Dotan Asselmann in 2018 to make best practices more accessible. In Theator’s extensive database, surgeons can find videos of specific surgeries, and filter for factors such as complications, comorbidities and competency to see how others have performed in similar situations. Afterwards, surgeons can watch footage of their own procedures cut down to key moments and annotated using artificial intelligence, enabling continuous learning and improvement.

Soos Technology 

Each year, about seven billion male chicks are culled because they aren’t able to lay eggs. But biotech startup Soos, founded by Yael Alter and Nashat Haj Mohammad in 2017, has found a solution: by exposing eggs to sound vibrations during incubation, they can transform male embryos into egg-laying females.

The next step is figuring out how to guarantee consistent results at scale in a commercial hatcheries. So far, the company says it’s averaging about 60 per cent female chicks per batch. But Alter is optimistic they can get to 100 per cent – and as of May, they’d raised $2.4 million in funding to make it happen. “It will take between a year and a half to two years until we’ll be able to say ‘OK, the product is ready to implement’,” Alter says. “That’s the golden egg.”


“Death and dying is the single largest consumer sector that is still untouched by innovation,” says Ron Gura, co-founder and CEO of Empathy. “It's really that human aversion: we don't want to talk about end of life.”

With Empathy, Gura – who made this list in 2011 as co-founder of social e-commerce startup The Gift Project – is looking to start that conversation. Launched in April with CTO Yonatan Bergman, the app supports bereaved families following the death of a loved one by sharing easy-to-follow guidance related to challenges like organising a funeral, settling debts and coping with grief, and automating bureaucratic and financial processes. Gura adds: “This is not a magical concierge that’s going to make the problem go away… However, we can let technology do the things technology is just better at doing.”


Flash storage is faster, more flexible and more compact than traditional hard drives. But these benefits have long come at a premium. Enter VAST Data: Founded in 2016 by Renen Hallak, Shachar Fienblit, and Jeff Denworth, the startup has introduced a new infrastructure that will make enterprise-wide flash use more affordable and accessible. In May, VAST Data was valued at $3.7 billion – more than triple its April 2020 valuation.


Melio is to small businesses what Monzo is to consumers, enabling them to send and receive payments using an integrated digital dashboard. Launched by Matan Bar, Ilan Atias and Ziv Paz in 2018, the free tool lets clients upload vendor invoices and schedule payments from debit and credit cards, which Melio then issues via bank transfer or cheque. Backed by American Express and Salesforce, Melio became a certified unicorn in January.

Amai Proteins

In a bid to address obesity, food tech startup Amai Proteins is using computational design and fermentation to develop zero-calorie “designer proteins” that are cheaper, healthier and thousands of times sweeter than sugar. Founded by CEO Ilan Samish in 2016, Amai has already partnered with Danone, PepsiCo and OceanSpray during its R&D phase, and hopes to bring its first products to market in 2022.

Papaya Global

In March, Papaya Global became Israel’s first woman-led unicorn. Established in 2016 by Eynat Guez, who serves as CEO, Ofer Herman and Ruben Drong, Papaya’s AI-based human resources platform allows companies to centralise, standardise and automate processes related to hiring, onboarding, payroll and people management – at a time when teams are dealing with increasingly diffuse workforces. The company now counts Microsoft, Toyota, and Johnson & Johnson among its clients.


Deci is using AI to make AI better. Before deployment, engineers upload their existing AI models to the startup’s proprietary AutoNAC (Automated Neural Architecture Construction) platform, which redesigns them for optimal accuracy and efficiency. Founded by Yonatan Geifman, Jonathan Elial and Ran El-Yaniv in 2019, Deci was one of the first participants in Intel’s Ignite accelerator programme, and the companies are now partnering to optimize models that run on Intel’s hardware.


Israeli air force veterans Moshe Shlisel, Dionis Teshler and Idan Nadav are bringing cybersecurity innovations developed for the skies back down to Earth with GuardKnox. Founded in 2016, the venture provides auto industry suppliers with adaptable computing solutions that cater to software-enabled cars, with a focus on one-the-road protection against hackers. To date, the company has raised $24 million to put toward their efforts.


Launched by Ira Belsky, Itzik Elbaz, Eyal Raz and Assaf Ayalon in 2016, Artlist is a one-stop shop for content creators, providing subscribers with unlimited access to royalty-free music, sound effects and video footage. Popular with YouTubers and brands alike (Nike and Netflix are fans), Artlist acquired multimedia marketplace Motion Array for $65 million last December, bringing its total number of digital assets up to 800,000.

This article was originally published by WIRED UK

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