Still not convinced..? Here are first-hand testimonials!

ClickCease/Cheq, Antonia Neumeier

Mein Aufenthalt in Israel

Gereist bin ich schon immer gerne, aber bisher hat es mich nur für wenige Wochen ins europäische Ausland gezogen. Mit dem Vorsatz ein komplett anderes Land (im Vergleich zu Deutschland) kennen zu lernen, trat ich Mitte Oktober meine Reise nach Tel Aviv an. Über den Flughafen in Istanbul landete ich nach mehreren Pass- und Sicherheitskontrollen um vier Uhr morgens am Ben Gurion Airport.

Mein erstes Gespräch bevor ich israelischen Boden betreten durfte, war gleichzeitig mein unfreundlichstes. Von da an ging es allerdings auch schon bergauf. In der Zeit, die ich Israel und besonders Tel Aviv erleben durfte, lernte ich die spontanen Gespräche auf der Straße, freundlichen Wegbeschreibungen und die sportlich motivierende Art vieler Isralis kennen und lieben. Eine Unterkunft fand ich für diese Zeit im Stadtzentrum, nahe des Dizengoff Centers. Dort zog ich in eine Wohngemeinschaft mit einem cholerischen Dreißig-Jährigen und einer sympathischen, auch ein Praktikum absolvierenden Französin.

Mein Lieblingsort wurde der Co-Working Space AYEKA in Florentin, in dem meine Praktikumsgeber ClickCease sechs Arbeitsplätze in einem kleinen Office anmietete. Die zwei Founder Yuval Haimov und Ilan Missulawin nahmen mich für 17 Wochen unter ihre Fittiche und ließen mich als Grafik Designerin Teil ihres Teams werden. So bearbeitete ich täglich anfallenden Kleinaufgaben, stellte Bildcollagen zusammen, konzeptionierte und erstellte Werbung, design Icons und ein Logo und kreierte Zeichnungen und Illustrationen.

Neben der Arbeit verbrachte ich oft meine Abende in gemütlicher Runde mit den anderen Teilnehmern des New Kibbutz Programmes in einer Bar, einem Restaurant oder auch zu Brett- und Kartenspieleabenden in privaten Räumlichkeiten. Am Wochenende nutzte die Gruppe das schöne Wetter um am Strand Sonne zu tanken oder das Land zu erkunden und beispielsweise einen Tagesausflug nach Akko zu unternehmen.

Ein Highlight meiner Zeit in Israel waren auch die von der AHK geplanten Ausflüge des New Kibbutz Programmes: Der Besuch des Kibbutz Afikim und des Ortes Tzfat, eine Knesset Besichtigung mit Ausflug zur Hans-Seidl-Stiftung in Jerusalem und eine Fahrt in die Golanhöhen. Alles in allem lässt sich rückblickend sagen, dass ich meinen Aufenthalt in Israel – innerhalb und außerhalb meines Arbeitsplatzes – sehr genossen habe, gerne daran zurückdenke und schon meinen nächsten Besuch plane.

imat-uve, Colin Matsinhe

Innovationmanagement und Business Development at imat-uve

In the context of versatile climate debates and emerging transformations in the mobility industry, I completed a ten-week internship working for the Israeli innovation consultant Stanislaw Grünstein, who heads the innovation office in Tel Aviv-Yafo on behalf of the German design and engineering company imat-uve GmbH. In the following I will describe the course of my internship on the basis of my personal goals and motivations, my tasks as well as the challenges and successes that arose. In order to embed these in a comprehensible context, I will first outline the company activities and its strategic goals in Israel.

Shaping the future | My why

My interest in a nourishing examination of Israel's innovation ecosystem began early in my studies. At the beginning of 2017 I read Christoph Keese's book "The Silicon Valley Challenge: A Wake-Up Call for Europe" which boosted my enthusiasm for start-ups, digitalization and entrepreneurship. At the same time I was surprised by the importance of Israel in this respect and I felt the need to learn more about it. During my studies, I began to deal with innovation in theory, in university groups and through internships in practice. At the end of 2017, this led to my first vacation trip to Israel, where I started exploring Tel Aviv's start-up scene. As a result, I came across the New Kibbutz Program and, in addition to participating in the program, I also wanted to study a semester abroad at Tel Aviv University. Fortunately, both intentions came true, so that I started studying at Tel Aviv University in mid-February 2019 and then followed up with the internship. The theoretical and practical deepenings regarding Israel's innovation ecosystem will serve as a basis for my bachelor thesis.

The company | imat-uve

imat-uve is a design and engineering service company, which was founded in 1989 and with about 280 employees ranks among the 99% of the most common type of companies in Germany, the medium-sized company (Mittelstand). The company has its headquarters in Mönchengladbach. In addition, it has further branches in Germany, China, the United States and South Africa. The company is managed by Hans-Willi Müller, Dr. Hans Peter Schlegelmilch and Eva Trienekens-Daems. The core activity of the company is the testing of materials, components and systems for the automotive industry. imat-uve supports automobile manufacturers (OEMs) and their distributors in all areas of material design, selection and validation. The company also provides research and development services.

In addition to a large number of innovation projects, the multidisciplinary R&D department develops intelligent materials, brain-computer interfaces for user-centered driving experiences and mixed-reality systems for remote-controlled assembly management. In recent years, imat-uve has been able to introduce new global standards for the automotive industry in partnership with automobile manufacturers in Germany, the USA and China.

Start-up Nation | Why the German Mittelstand keeps an eye on Israel

Since the beginning of 2018, the company has been establishing its presence in Israel with the intention of establishing strategic partnerships in the innovation ecosystem. The focus is on car manufacturers, Tier 1 suppliers, research and development, as well as high-tech suppliers, who maintain innovation departments mainly in Tel Aviv. 40% of Israel's exports are high-tech products, so scouting and buying expert knowledge as well as technology solutions, which are mainly generated by start-ups, plays a major role. The term "start-up nation" therefore seems unsurprising when you consider that there are about 6,500 start-ups in Israel today, which makes it the second highest concentration of technology start-ups in the world. For the mobility scene in Israel, networks and events such as Ecomotion offer a decisive locational advantage. Getting to know new business models, workflows and automation is thereby reflected in the innovation and digitization strategy of imat-uve. Finally, the concentration of venture capital for the seed-funding of a spin-off should also offer an advantage. For illustration purposes, the venture capital collected by Israeli companies, which amounts to 6 billion US dollars in 2018, can be used here, whereas German companies collected only 4.9 billion US dollars.

Before the internship

As already mentioned, the interest in Israel's innovation ecosystem has accompanied me for a while now, so that I took the internship as an opportunity to deepen my knowledge. In addition, I did not only want to get to understand the higher-level interrelationships, but also better understand innovation as a practice within this specific ecosystem. Both intentions were always in the context of my scientific as well as personal and/or professional interest. Thirdly for me, independent learning, but also learning together with colleagues, was a definite goal.

In a preliminary talk, Stanislaw Grünstein and I concretized my intentions with regard to the currently relevant topics and agreed on five areas of responsibility. Firstly, I was asked to draw up a status report on innovation in Israel. This should be supported by, secondly, the development of a database on the Israeli (mobility) innovation ecosystem, which should collect investors, companies, innovation labs and more. Furthermore, I should carry relevant knowledge about innovation management in the form of workshop content for the management into the company. Fourth, I should look for technologies that address the issue of perceived quality inside the car cabin. Finally, we agreed to work on the business development of the imat-uve spin-off Brain of Materials.

About successful failure and success

My responsibilities therefore covered a broad spectrum of innovation management and business development. In the following, I will examine these in more detail, without discussing minor administrative tasks. In the course of the internship, not all of the goals decided upon were implemented as planned, which turned out to be a characteristic of everyday work. Flexibility was therefore an important competence and resource both within and across the organisation. This finally led me to deal only marginally with Scouting.

My first two intentions and tasks, the vertical and horizontal investigation of the Israeli innovation ecosystem with a focus on the mobility industry, I followed up in different ways. These include attending conferences, trade fairs and lectures with different focuses. Besides events of delegates from Germany, I represented imat-uve at investor presentations, the Digital Life Design Conference Tel-Aviv and various partner events. One of them was on "Smart Cities and Future Transportation", where I independently established the contact to a potential cooperation partner and pre-evaluated a possible cooperation, as well as worked out interfaces for the cooperation. Depending on the event, I prepared and re-prepared them in different ways, for example by researching with whom a discussion seemed meaningful or by writing follow-ups or arranging follow-up appointments. In this context, I also organized and chaired an external meeting. Especially exciting with regard to innovation in Germany was getting to know members of the Cyber Innovation Hub of the German Armed Forces, the German Start-up Association and Germantech. With regard to innovation, entrepreneurship and Israel, Inbal Arielis presentation on Chutzpa at the VW Group's Konnect Innovation Hub was another highlight. A challenge that initially arose when attending events was to appear as an intern or representative of the company. On the one hand in relation to their own self-confidence and on the other hand in relation to access to potential partners. Taken together, the independent contact with external partners and the support of Stanislaw Grünstein gave me far-reaching insights into the requirements for establishing strategic collaboration.

Apart from the events, the reading and editing of literature was an important part of the study. Daily I informed myself via newsletter and social media about current events of the world economy, Israel and Tel Aviv's business world, as well as the world wide and local mobility scene. I also regularly read essays and books on innovation management and Israel's innovation ecosystem. Some of the information I collected was compiled in databases. Another into trend and prediction reports on mobility and especially the automotive. And finally, as mentioned above, I condensed the information into workshop materials for the board of management. In this context, I also participated with suggestions in the strategic orientation and structuring of the innovation management of imat-uve. For this purpose, I compiled an innovation method catalogue, classified according to various mature straight lines of solutions and problems. I also researched, tested and evaluated software solutions that supported the ideation process as well as the innovation management process. A challenge that initially arose in the preparation of information was the degree of depth and detail of the content. In contrast to the academic approach, the economic framework required a much stronger focus on results, so that speed often outweighed depth of content.

I further deepened the topic of innovation management by investigating the expansion of business activities from a consulting perspective in the form of a business model. To do this I used a persona model to examine the target group and its needs, the consulting market and competitors as well as various business models. On this basis, I worked out the necessary resources and analyzed the feasibility of the business plan. Subsequently, I developed a market launch plan as well as drafts for the visual communication of the appearance. Although many of the results of my work led to a rethink that seemed to make sense, this was precisely where the success lay. In addition, some of my suggestions provided adaptable possibilities for rethinking.

In addition to a weekly video conference with the design and development department in Mönchengladbach to discuss news, the planning and organization of Brain of Materials. Within this scope I worked on the preparation of information for investors. In general I gained insight into the tasks and requirements of a spin-off company. One challenge was the communication via video conferences with the working group in Mönchengladbach, because some information was prevented by the transmission.

Besides the internship, the exchange with other participants of the New Kibbutz Program was a valuable experience. Before the internship began, my predecessor told me about the problem that the exchange would not take place regularly. To counteract this, I organized weekly meetings, which took place 10 times until my departure and are still continued today. Thus I got insights into the most different ranges of the High Tech sector and became acquainted with students with similar interests from all over Germany. In addition, a community grew together that has the potential to develop into an exciting alumnae and alumninetwork in the long run.

If you are interested in my lessons learned regarding social skills, communication, productivity or networking or would like to contact me in any other way, please contact me at www.linkedin.com/in/colinmatsinhe

For a best practice exchange on the development and operationalisation of the innovation strategy of medium-sized companies in Israel, I would be happy to refer you to Stanislaw Grünstein.

Innogy Innovation Hub (E.On Israel Ltd), Max Lenzen

3 advantages of joining the New Kibbutz Program

Before I decided to apply for the New Kibbutz program, I wasn’t sure whether this is the right thing for me. I looked at the internship positions and I didn’t see a fit. In fact, it took me a year to finally take the decision to apply. So for all of you who are currently in the same situation: Apply. You will defi-nitely not regret it and maybe you will even consider turning your return trip to Germany into a home vacation trip, just to come back to Israel and stay for a bit longer. At least, that is what I did. Why? Because of 3 advantages of the NK program no one in Germany will tell you about:

1. The easiest and safest way you will ever get an internship abroad. For some, this may sound strange, but let me tell you: The application process is a piece of cake and the paperwork nothing compared to doing it on your own. I lived in the US for one year and I know what I am talking about. Also, there is no safer way to join a startup abroad. As the startups themselves have to get accepted to the program, you can be relatively sure that the AHK already checked them. In case something is not as expected, it is always nice to have a back-up institution and Liron did an amazing job at making sure that we are ok and having the time of our life. Thanks to our NK whatsapp group, all NK partici-pants could easily exchange Life & Travel hacks (used to be called recommendations) or spontaneous-ly hang out together.

2. The unique team experience. Let’s face it, in most internships we start out with the hope of doing something meaningful and we end up with resignation and the unfulfilled hope. This can also happen in Israel, but for me and many other NK participants it was the exact opposite: From day one, I was part of much more than just a team, working with them, not for them. At many points it felt like being part of a family, and me getting invited to a Shabbat dinner is just one of many memories I will take back home. Everyone at work always let me know that my work is appreciated and adds value. This doesn’t mean that every single task was a wow experience, but there were definitely more wow experiences than I can count. Every day at work was an opportunity to learn and enjoy.

3. High financial support. I know, you’re not actually getting a salary when you are part of the NK program. And even though I personally believe that this experience cannot be measured in terms of money, I want to show you why you actually do get a high salary: First of all, most startups pay for your meals and bus tickets. Considering that (a) we are in many cases talking about startups without huge budgets, that (b) the salaries here in Israel are, on average, lower than the ones in Germany and that (c) the living expenses are incredibly high in Tel Aviv, this is a big deal. Furthermore, the NK will inform you about all funding opportunities which might apply to you and there is no simpler and faster access to it than through the NK (I believe each one of us got funded). This often totals a value of more than 700€ per month (500€ funding + about 200€ for food & bus transportation) which is not bad for an internship remuneration.

There are many more great reasons why to choose the NK program and come to Israel, from the beautiful landscapes it has to offer to the cultural & political NK trips in which we had 2 hours of Q&A with the former head of the Israeli embassy in Berlin. So if this sounds interesting to you, apply. Just do it.

Questions? Contact Max!

Siemens Industry Software, Christian Schletter

Israel - A small country that offers several different landscapes, uncountable cultures, a booming high-tech sector, infinite history and warmhearted people.

When you hear about Israel in the news in Germany, it is either talking about conflicts or about Startups. In the radio you might hear Neta and with friends you might discuss the rave and party scene. As always, the media picks the most extreme points of a country and influences the overall mindset about it. So what would there be better to do, than go there and see it for yourself?

Yes. You could just travel to the Holy Land for one or two weeks and go from one touristic place to the next. But what if you could stay longer and connect the stay with work experience in a foreign country? There’s where the New Kibbutz Program comes in.

Unlike other New Kibbutz participants, I wrote my Master thesis during the six-month internship in Tel Aviv. And I enjoyed every second of it.

I worked at Siemens Industry Software. This branch is a former Startup which is responsible for an industrial simulation software. I was part of the R&D Team and worked on Deep Learning Algorithms that enable robots to grasp objects intuitively in the simulation environment. The work there gave me the possibility to have insights in a settled company, with still a startup spirit, great facilities (even a relaxation room in the office) and very nice colleagues. We made trips to the desert together, went to escape-the-room evenings and to bars.

After work, I never spent my evening watching series in my room. The city was just to vibrant, the beach to close and friends always around. As the weather is (almost) always good, a lot of the life happens outside. Either in the uncountable bars or on the beach volley ball fields. The Tel Avivians are always open for a talk, happy to recommend you new spots and ask you about your experience in Israel. The parties are uncountable: from free clubs, to never ending street parties, hidden raves to great techno clubs or a 24h rave in the desert. I might have destroyed my hearing, but it was absolutely worth it.

On the week-ends, it is really easy to travel around in this small country. The north resembles Europe, with green forests and little hills. The further you get south, the dryer it gets, until you come to the Negev desert. This part is also very unique and impressive, especially Mizpe Ramon (lovely for camping and stargazing). For only 4€ it is possible to go to Jerusalem. From there the Westbank opens up. The Arab cities with their markets, chaotic traffic and welcoming people amazed me and I spent a lot of time there.

Liron from the New Kibbutz program organized a really intense trip to the Golan Heights. On another trip to a ‘old’ Kibbutz we got an insight of the daily life there, which was quite interesting. In general, some great friendships emerged from the New Kibbutz, some that I will surely keep my whole life. Together we rented cars and visited the country.

I will always remember my time in Israel, as an interesting, enriching and fun experience. And I will come back. That’s for sure.