Entrepreneurship Initiatives at JCT
The JCT LevTech Entrepreneurship Center, launched in October 2017, provides our students with the opportunity to create products and hone skills to reach that goal. Through LevTech, students receive access to both business and tech mentoring as they build teams and create products through a pre-accelerator program (LevTech LAB), exposure and opportunity to create tech solutions for challenges presented by companies and social service organizations in campus hackathons (technology marathons), and events encouraging creative thinking in the business and hi-tech spheres.
The Entrepreneurship Program consists of:
- The LevTech LAB Pre-Accelerator: A semester-long program providing would-be entrepreneurs with the opportunities and resources to develop their ideas and ventures through 3-hour weekly classes and independent work. Students receive both business and tech mentoring as they create products.
- Hackathons which are intensive technology marathons held over short periods of time (typically 48-hours), provide a platform in which companies and organizations present problems that need technological solutions, and are ways for students to design and develop prototypes that solve the problems. Industry also looks more and more to hackathons to identify potential future employees. Providing the hackathons, in which 80-120 students compete, which teach creative thinking and provide exposure to multi-national companies, start-ups and VCs. Such exposure is especially important for the orthodox and ultra-orthodox community, who typically lack contacts in these spheres. During campus hackathons, students from engineering, business, and accounting programs join forces to create technology products and provide solutions to challenges presented by children’s hospitals, tech firms, retail and commercial sites, organizations working on technology for people with disabilities, and more. Students practice working in interdisciplinary teams, improve upon or learn technology skills, and gain confidence developing products for the non-profit sector and the high-tech industry. Three hackathons have been held through the program since its inception less than two years ago. Among these was JCT's first women's hackathon, in which participants, some of whom were nursing mothers with their babies in hand, developed products such as:
-An electronic bracelet to help paramedics with triage in mass-casualty incidents
-An “escape room” (a series of rooms with high-level games and riddles that need to be solved in order to “escape") for the blind and the sighted together
-A product that uses machine learning and image processing to aid in homeland security.
- LevTech Talks: All students from JCT are encouraged to participate in LevTech Talks. These are offered in addition to lectures on innovation, the first of which was given by Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem and an entrepreneur, in which over 150 women participated. Smaller talks of 20-40 participants were also provided by David Leichner VP of Marketing at SQream Technologies and former VP of Cynet and Gilat Satellite Networks; Bob Rosenchein, CEO and founder of Answers.com and Curiyo, as well as from Col. (Res.) Yossi Golan a VP of the Intelligence Unit at Elbit, an aerospace and defense company. Future lectures are planned in the fields of aerospace, software and med-tech.
Past and ongoing initiatives
The Yazam BaLev accelerator provides Haredi entrepreneurs, even those in very early stages of their venture, with the tools they need to develop their ideas and transform them into viable products and startup companies. The program was developed with an understanding of the special needs of the Haredi community, helps them with any lack of background in technology and education, as well as any marketing difficulties. The accelerator was open to the public and ran two cycles with a total of thirty projects. The program offered one-on-one guidance and mentoring from top executives and investors from the hi-tech community to help them launch, fund and expand their startups.
The Schuman Center for Entrepreneurship made possible by the generous funding of Dr. Dov Friedberg and the Canadian Friends of JCT including the The Friedberg Program for Entrepreneurial Excellence. The program enabled students to advance entrepreneurial ideas from the early, “exploratory” stages to later, “concrete” stages of the entrepreneurship process. Student projects selected to participate in the program benefitted from financial assistance for the projects, as well as lectures and workshops designed to provide the students with the know-how and tools needed to develop their ideas. Graduates of the program include ZUtalabs, a portable pocket printer featured on Wired, Forbes and other leading tech websites.