Twenty young Jewish and Arab entrepreneurs from Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Beit Hanina, Shuafat, Rehavia, and Katamon gathered at the Margalit Startup City headquarters this week to present innovative technology that will benefit the city and influence social change.
Margalit Startup City is the location of Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), the Jerusalem-based venture capital firm founded in 1993 by its current chairman, Israel tech entrepreneur Erel Margalit. Margalit Startup City is also home to dozens of high-tech companies and associations. The group gathered there in accordance with coronavirus restrictions.
“People think of Jerusalem as a city which is just fought over, but we are proving that it is a city of creativity”, said Margalit. “This is a special city with high-tech and innovation, with the ability to turn west to Europe and the US, and east to the Middle East and Asia. The young entrepreneurs are bringing energy to the city, and they are the people making the connections. This meeting proves the power we have in building big things together.”
The meeting opened with one-minute elevator pitches, where each entrepreneur presented his or her project to other hackathon participants.
Among the presenters was Saida Kurdia, who talked about her project utilizing technology to ensure healthy eating. Yusuf Awada said that as a waiter he was shocked by the level of food waste, and spoke of the need for an app that locates and distributes surplus food to the needy. Gilad Sevitt and Michal Rosen presented an idea for an app that will help those who want to learn spoken Arabic, Ohad Stosel described an app that will enable you to compare old pictures of Jerusalem to modern-day views as you visit them, and Ditza Keren presented her initiative for a center for Jewish and Arab musicians.
After the presentations, the developers broke off into working groups to build the models together and solve technological problems. Eventually, each idea was presented to judges, who gave constructive comments on each project.
The organizers of the hackathon are said to be working to build on this first meeting, and embarking on a series of meetings and collaborations that will expand in the near future.
“This meeting is a dream come true. I have been in a lot of peace programs, but never in Jerusalem. Let’s learn together and succeed together. Diversity will win out,” said Adnan Jaber, another organizer.
“We have a vision, to build an innovative integration of Jerusalemites from all sectors,” said Yonatan Arnon, one of the event’s organizers. “This is the beginning of a vision and building bridges. In the days when virtual reality covers everything—we create reality.”
This article first appeared in NoCamels, which covers innovations from Israel for a global audience.