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Breaking the MedTech Glass Ceiling

An alumna of TAU’s program for young women entrepreneurs is developing a device that could revolutionize heart disease treatment.

Israel’s reputation as “Startup Nation” is well-deserved, but its tech industry suffers from a lack of gender diversity. Hoping to bring in a wealth of untapped potential, Tel Aviv University’s Entrepreneurship Center created a semester-long hands-on workshop for women to help bring their startup ideas to fruition with the help of experienced mentors. One such project is Symbiosis CM, founded by student-and-mentor team Dr. Shira Burg and Varda Badet, which is creating a medical device that personalizes treatment of heart disease. The startup has raised $1.9M as of last year and won a number of competitions and grants including the Deep Tech Track of the Coller Startup Competition and a grant from the Israeli Innovation Authority. The Problem  Originally trained as a veterinarian, Shira Burg worked for seven years alongside a small animal cardiologist in Israel, doing catheter procedures on dogs with congenital heart valve disease. There, she learned that one of the most common heart diseases, mitral valve disease, is difficult to treat because valve replacements are not fitted to individual heart sizes and replacement surgeries are invasive and costly. The disease occurs in aged dogs—and aged humans—in almost exactly the same way. During this period, she began working with a surgeon who was attempting to create a mitral valve prosthetic, but discovered just how much heart anatomies differ from person to person. “You can’t take something rigid and standard and expect it to fit every heart,” she says. “I realized that though we have personalized medicine in many fields such as drugs, diet, and genetics, we don’t have much personalization for medical devices. I saw an opening there for an improved mitral valve solution.”  
Shira Burg: “I realized that though we have personalized medicine in many fields such as drugs, diet, and genetics, we don’t have much personalization for medical devices. I saw an opening there.”
  Burg decided to pursue a PhD in cardiac electrophysiology at TAU’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the lab of Prof. Bernard Attali. There, she continued to think about her idea for a better mitral valve device. In 2020, she heard about a new workshop, Yazamiyot, for female graduate students at TAU’s Entrepreneurship Center. “I realized that if I could get accepted, I might be able to do something with my idea.” After a rigorous application process involving three separate interviews, Burg was one of 30 women admitted to the first course. The Course  Yazamiyot, meaning “female entrepreneurs”, is an accelerator program targeting women master’s and PhD students. Participants work in small groups over one semester to establish a startup initiative in a supportive and empowering environment and are mentored through the process by successful women with industry experience. Burg’s mentor, TAU alumna Varda Badet, would go on to become her business partner. “With Varda, something just stuck. We had a connection,” Burg says. Badet came from the finance sector, having served as the EVP at Bank Leumi for Risk Management during her many years in the field. Hoping to share her knowledge and connections, she took some courses to become a mentor at the Entrepreneurship Center. “There I found Shira, a very special entrepreneur. Every unsolved problem, she investigates and explores until it is solved. She is very motivated and ambitious, and I could see she was someone I wanted to work with.”  
Yair Sakov: “At Tel Aviv University, we feel it is our responsibility to help drive change within society. Our mission at the Center is to empower students to come up with solutions to global challenges.”
  During the semester, participants were brought face to face with the market realities that would determine whether their ideas were commercially feasible. They were taught how to inform themselves on target demographics and competitors, present their ideas to experts and the public, build a team, and more. They also heard from industry experts, from whom they could ask advice on their individual projects, and successful female entrepreneurs. Yair Sakov, founder and managing director of the TAU Entrepreneurship Center, says: “At Tel Aviv University, we feel it is our responsibility to help drive change within our society. Our mission at the Center is to empower students to come up with solutions to global challenges by helping them develop an entrepreneurial mindset and by giving them tools and resources. In particular, we aim to uplift underrepresented communities, including women, who are still marginalized in the startup ecosystem. The Yazamiyot program was created to address that gender gap, and nearly every cohort since its inception has contributed to the establishment of new woman-led startups.” Burg credits the workshop with giving her the tools to make her idea for a personalized heart valve device a reality, but says the most important thing she gained was her connection with Badet. Aside from teaching necessary business finance skills, Badet brought in resources in the form of her many industry connections and financial backing. “As a mentor, you must believe in your entrepreneur completely and be ready to stick out the tough process with them. This product is worth that perseverance because it could save so many lives,” says Badet. The Company  There is indeed great life-saving potential in addressing the lack of effective mitral valve disease solutions: in the US alone about 70% of the 4 million patients with the condition are unable to get proper treatment. Additionally, hospitals pay about $40 billion a year in treatment costs, with over 90% rehospitalization rates due to heart failure. Many companies have tried to address the problem, but their products are not widely approved and do not fit more than 20% of heart anatomies. In a novel move, Symbiosis CM is developing a docking system that allows for real-time valve adjustment per an individual’s heart structure and minimally invasive procedures to treat the disease. The system is compatible with valves already on the market, making it accessible and opening the door to collaboration with other companies. The startup team already has a working prototype in preclinical trials on lab models.   A sample image of the heart valve docking system created by Symbiosis CM Burg happily notes that her original plan to develop a solution for dogs, ideated during her time as a veterinarian, may one day also become reality: the product is small enough to work on animals as well as people. The management side of things is also on track for success: Burg and Badet recently brought on a new CEO, Amir Weisberg, who has behind him 35 years of entrepreneurial experience, three exits in the medical field and an IPO on NASDAQ. “He was actually retired when we approached him, but after we presented to him, he decided to come out of retirement and sign on full-time to the company,” says Burg. The Need for Women in Industry  Both Burg and Badet note that the Yazamiyot course is essential because of the difficulties of succeeding in the startup industry as a woman. Says Burg, “It’s a male-dominated world. We need to say it out loud. Especially in the spaces where I work, in the medical field and cardiology, it’s mostly men. When I came to specialists and investors, they would see a young woman and decide before I started speaking that I wasn’t to be taken seriously. That is why it is so important to push more women into entrepreneurship in general: so that people no longer question what we’re doing there.” Adds Badet, “it makes me so glad to see and to help more women break into entrepreneurship.”  
Shira Burg: “In Israel, female entrepreneurship is an unpolished diamond.”
  “Israel has many undiscovered talents,” says Burg. “Female entrepreneurship, especially, is an unpolished diamond. If we expand programs such as Yazamiyot, amazing things will come from it.” About the Entrepreneurship Center  Four the last four years, Tel Aviv University’s Entrepreneurship Center has provided students from across campus with the knowledge, tools, strategies and opportunities to create business and social ventures. It connects them with alumni, industry, government agencies and NGOs to generate and develop the next world-changing ideas. Over the Center’s first years of operations, it has achieved the following:   · 100 entrepreneurship courses, events and programs · 12,000 student participants · 92 startups ·$155 million in VC capital ·190 top industry mentors, most of them TAU alumni By gradually expanding activities, the Center expects its to reach 4,500 students per year by 2029.    

The Tel Aviv University Alumnus Super-Driving the Future

Mobileye CEO and trailblazing technologist Prof. Amnon Shashua on what fuels his work and philanthropy.

As an undergraduate at Tel Aviv University in computer science and math, Prof. Amnon Shashua first cultivated his skills in the discipline of scientific thinking. 

This approach to problem-solving was foundational to his subsequent academic career and meteoric rise as the CEO and founder of Mobileye. The driver-assist and autonomous-driving technology company is recognized as one of Israel’s biggest high-tech success stories. Its $15.3 billion acquisition by Intel in 2017 remains the largest ever for an Israeli tech company. 

Alongside Mobileye, Shashua helms several other businesses based on artificial intelligence (AI) technology, including OrCam, which develops ‘smart’ assistive devices for the visually impaired; Israel’s first digital bank, One Zero; and AI21 Labs, which raised $64 million in 2022 to augment human writing with its AI systems for computer-generated text.


“Scholarships at TAU are part of promoting the economic success of Israel—academia plays a very strong role in this success.” – Prof. Amnon Shashua 


TAU Alumnus to Benefactor

Parallel to his zeal for advancing technology, Shashua is passionate about advancing society. To date, he and his family have donated about $60 million to philanthropic causes, including scholarships at TAU. 

Together with his wife, Anat, and three grown children, Shashua seeks to promote economic opportunity and movement toward high-tech among Israel’s underrepresented populations. These include the country’s ultra-Orthodox, Israeli-Arabs, women in STEM, and periphery communities. 

“The biggest challenge we have worldwide, not just in Israel, is the widening wealth gap which threatens to cause social unrest and disorder,” he says of the impetus behind his giving. “Scholarships at TAU are part of promoting the economic success of Israel—academia plays a very strong role in this success,” he adds. 

In another example of their philanthropic contributions, the Shashua family established a $35 million fund to aid some 2,000 new small businesses that suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. Shashua hopes the so-called WE-19 program will further help even the playing field for new generations of entrepreneurs and innovators.



“AI’s ability to sense the world will change everything we know about mobility” – Prof. Amnon Shashua


AI: Full Throttle Ahead

Sitting at the intersection of academia and the business world, Shashua has a prime vantage point when it comes to the future of AI. 

“It’s easy for a human to have common sense, but hard to program it into a machine,” he explains. “Now it’s starting to happen.” 

He sees three primary areas where AI is expected to make leaps and bounds in the next five years: pattern recognition and sensing, or understanding the world through sensors; decision-making that affects the actions of others; and natural-language understanding which uses advanced software to enable computers to comprehend and respond to human text or speech. 

When it comes to sensing and decision-making, autonomous driving is one example of AI’s progress.

“AI’s ability to sense the world will change everything we know about mobility,” Shashua says. “With autonomous vehicles, cars will become safer, there will be fewer cars on the roads, and lower costs in transporting people.”



“Even though I’m responsible for some 4,000 employees among all my businesses, I’m a scientist at my core,” – Prof. Amnon Shashua 


Scientist at the Core

Shashua explains that his businesses are an expansion of his work as a professor of computer science at Hebrew University. 

“I thought it would be nice to build startups because then you can solve bigger problems at a larger scale than in academia,” he says. “I never imagined it’d grow into something as big as it did.”

While he wears many professional hats, Shashua maintains an underlying passion for research. 

“Even though I’m responsible for some 4,000 employees among all my businesses, I’m a scientist at my core,” he says. 

Shashua continues to teach, too. Once a week, he hosts his advanced degree students for sandwiches and research sessions at his Mobileye offices in Jerusalem. 

“Staying in academia keeps me sharp,” he adds, smiling.


Prof. Shashua addresses a 2018 ‘Meetings with Inspiring Alumni’ event hosted by the Tel Aviv University Alumni Organization



“Take the tough courses, take the long road, and enjoy the journey not just the destination.” – Prof. Amnon Shashua



Scholarly Foundations

From an early age, Shashua planned to pursue a scientific trajectory. “Becoming an entrepreneur surprised me,” he explains.

Shashua grew up in the Tel Aviv area. In high school, he studied in a program for gifted students in computer science. His academic journey began at Tel Aviv University in 1982, a week after his discharge from the IDF’s Armored Corp, where he’d recently served in the First Lebanon War.

“The tools I acquired through my math studies at the University really captivated me,” says Shashua of his time at TAU.

He then earned a master’s degree in computer science from the Weizmann Institute of Science and completed his PhD and postdoctoral training in fields related to brain and computational sciences at MIT.

For his pioneering contributions to the field of AI, Shashua has earned numerous accolades, most recently the 2020 Dan David Prize, headquartered at TAU, and his 2022 induction to the Automotive Hall of Fame in Michigan, US.

For students aspiring to become innovators and entrepreneurs, he encourages them to “take the tough courses, take the long road, and enjoy the journey not just the destination.”

By Julie Steigerwald-Levi

Breaking Glass Ceilings

Tel Aviv University alumna, Israela Tadela Baruch, launches project to empower Israeli women of Ethiopian descent.

“We are here to reach the forums where significant decisions are made that affect our daily lives and those of our children.”

This is an excerpt from a Facebook post from November 2nd 2022 that launched the “Tzahai” project (“light beam” in Amharic), initiated by Israela Tadela Baruch, an MA graduate in Public Policy at Tel Aviv University’s Gershon H. Gordon Faculty of Social Sciences, who also has experience in communications and from the social sector. 

A New Direction

“As a mother of a toddler and with another one on the way, and after seven years of working in the field of communication, I encountered adversity where I least expected them: from women at a managerial level. That made me realize that if I want to succeed, I’ll have to take matters into my own hands. I decided to take an independent path and pursue my passion for meaningful public engagement in a field close to my heart.”


 “I wanted a new direction – for us to be able to connect, not as women seeking help, but from a place of strength and power.”  Israela Tadela Baruch


Israela took part in an accelerator for social entrepreneurship through the World Zionist Organization and won an ‘outstanding enterprise’ grant. “I wanted to create a program to develop leadership skills among women from the Ethiopian community,” she explains. “That would equip them with the tools they need in order to enter Israeli politics and contribute to decision making. To add more nuance to Israel’s political landscape. I know women who have what it takes to execute public action, be it on local or national level.”

A group photo from the Tzahai group’s second meeting, where the women engaged in a fascinating discussion about politics, regime and social boundaries with political science expert, Dr. Hani Zubida (photo: from Tzahai’s Facebook page)

Israela mapped out all the existing organizations for Ethiopian women and found that they all dealt in the field of welfare. “I wanted a new direction – for us to be able to connect, not as women seeking help, but from a place of strength and power.”

Breaking Glass Ceilings

Prof. Itai Sened, the Dean of TAU’s Faculty of Social Sciences recognized the potential of Israela’s project, and encouraged her. She used connections she made in previous workplaces and managed to form a very diverse group, which included women at different stages of their professional lives from all over Israel.

Practically all of the women she gathered were full-time working mothers. They still found time to meet once every two weeks for Israela’s leadership program.


Women attending the program (photo: from Tzahai’s Facebook page)

“I wanted the women to meet a wide variety of influential and inspiring individuals, both women and men. This could help them expand their public activities and enable them to create impactful women’s networks of their own – and new social initiatives for the [Ethiopian] community. It was important for me to equip them with skills such as building arguments and public speaking. “

The program covered a wide array of topics: politics and gender; ethnicity; economic status; feminism; introduction to local government and social networks. The list also included a storytelling workshop and meetings with Ethiopians from Israeli media.

Soon the group will be heading to the Knesset, where they will meet with Pnina Tamano-Shata, another graduate from TAU’s Department of Public Policy, the Chair of the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality.


“When my own two girls grow up, I would like female integration into political and social life to be a given. Today, for women in general and Ethiopian women in Israel in particular, it is hard to aspire to become politicians. I would like to change that.”  Israela Tadela Baruch


A Beam of Light

14 women participated in the first instalment, which took place in the University’s Social Sciences’ Naftali building. “We chose to call this program Tzahai, or ‘Beam of Light’ in Amharic,” says Israela. “When my own two girls grow up, I would like female integration into political and social life to be a given. Today, for women in general and Ethiopian women in Israel in particular, it is hard to aspire to become politicians. I would like to change that.”  

The second instalment of the Tzahai program will begin in October 2023. “There is no doubt that all the elections in the last five years and the lack of a stable government have resulted in some women realizing that they should be at the forefront. I can proudly say that a number of women from the pilot plan to run for local elections in 2023, using the skillset and network they’ve acquired,” says Israela.

She says that the education she received at Tel Aviv University contributed a lot to the project: “I participated in Dr. Yossi Boles’ elective course ‘Social Entrepreneurs in the Public Sector’, where I learned valuable insights. I also met women from different fields of interest who broadened my horizons. The icing on the cake is Prof. Itai Sened who supported, accompanied, advised – and most importantly believed in me.”

Israela’s message to social entrepreneurs who want to realize their ideas: “Don’t hesitate, believe in your idea, and do not wait for the right time to realize your dreams because that time is already yesterday.


“We are here to reach the forums where significant decisions are made that affect our daily lives and those of our children.” (photo: from Tzahai’s Facebook page)

Want to learn more?

Email: [email protected]

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Munich Philharmonic Names Lahav Shani its Next Chief Conductor

The 34-year-old Israeli musician and Tel Aviv University alumnus adds another top-notch orchestra to his portfolio.

Lahav Shani, Music Director with the Israel Philharmonic since 2020 and alumnus of Tel Aviv University’s Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, will take over as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic, a leading German and international orchestra, starting September 2026.

The announcement was made last week by the mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, who underscored the freshness Shani would bring to the orchestra as one of the youngest chief conductors in the ensemble’s history: “Lahav Shani is a perfect fit for the Munich Philharmonic. The city orchestra, with its tradition and renown, has been rejuvenated and is awakening a new excitement for classical music,” Reiter said.

Shani’s appointment was decided by the Munich City Council on the recommendation of the orchestra. He was present in the southern German city to sign the contract. “I met the orchestra just last year for the first time, and the relationship was immediately very strong, which is very promising (…) I’m looking forward to the coming years,” he said in a video which was posted on his own Instagram account, as well as on the Munich Philharmonic’s Twitter account following the signing.

Shani will continue his role at the Israel Philharmonic, and will be conducting both orchestras once he steps into his new role. 

Impressive achievement for Tel Aviv University in the Bar Association Exam

100% of the TAU alumni who took the Bar Association exams for the first time, passed successfully and Tel Aviv University also leads with the highest average grade.

For the first time, 100% of the TAU examinees who took their Bar Association exams for the first time, passed it successfully, according to the Israel Bar Association.

Tel Aviv University also leads with the highest average grade and overall passing rate (including those who did not take the exam for the first time) of 94%. 

“Israel’s Future Legal Leaders”

The impressive achievement of a 100% passing rate among alumni taking the exam for the first time was also recorded at Bar-Ilan and Haifra universities. In fourth place among those taking the exam for the first time is the Hebrew University (95%). According to the Israel Bar Association, this is a first time increase in the percentage of examinees passing. 

There were a total of 1,506 examinees in the end of June, and 47% of them passed. The percentage of examinees passing the exams on first attempt (597 individuals) is significantly higher than the general passing rate, and stands at 64%.

Like last year, there is a gap between the percentage of passing grades between university and college graduates (although the gaps have narrowed), 87% of the university alumni passed the exam and 41% of the college graduates. 

An analysis of the data by place of specialization, shows that the military/police prosecutor’s office achieved the highest percentage of passing the exam, with 76%; in second place is the state prosecutor’s office for its districts with 65%. Most of the examinees come from the private sector, where the passing rate is 39% out of 1,163 examinees. 

Prof. Yishai Blank, Buchmann Faculty of Law Dean, says, “I am especially proud that the alumni of TAU’s Faculty of Law have, once again, achieved top Bar Examination results with 100% passing the exam and overall earning the highest scores in the country. We are proud of them and the excellent legal training that the Faculty provides them during their studies, preparing them to become Israel’s future legal leaders.” 

TAU Alumnae are the most influential women in Israel

Globes published the “50 Most Influential Women in Israel” project for 2022, and the TAU alumnae community continues to break glass ceilings and increase TAU’s honor and prestige!

Globes Magazine has published the “50 Most Influential Women in Israel” project for 2022, which showcases the top women in the country whose work has significantly influenced the public or the public discourse in the past year.

The women on the prestigious list come from various fields like economics, industry, tourism, finance, high-tech, the public sector, the health system, the legal system, real estate, security, politics, society, education, media and advertising.

Tel Aviv University is represented by 14 alumnae, the highest number of alumnae amongst all academic institutions in Israel in the respected team:

  • Minister of the Interior Ayelet Shaked, alumna of TAU’s Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering and the Blavatnik School of Computer Science
  • Esther Hayut, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, alumna of the Buchmann Faculty of Law
  • Attorney General Adv. Gali Baharav-Miara, alumna of the Buchmann Faculty of Law
  • Major General Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, Chief Military Prosecutor, alumna of the Buchmann Faculty of Law 
  • Ofra Strauss, Chairperson of the Public Strauss Group, alumna of the Buchmann Faculty of Law 
  • Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, Head of Public Health Services at the Israeli Ministry of Health, alumna of the Coller School of Management
  • Shira Greenberg, Chief Economist at the Israeli Ministry of Finance, alumna of the School of Economics at TAU’s Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Liran Avisar Ben Horin, Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Communications, alumna of the Buchmann Faculty of Law and the Coller School of Management
  • Dr. Osnat Levtzion-Korach, General Director of the Shamir Medical Center (Assaf Harofeh Hospital), alumna of the Coller School of Management
  • Lilach Asher-Topilsky, Senior Partner at Fimi Opportunity Funds, alumna of TAU’s Faculty of Social Sciences and the Coller School of Management
  • Etty Abadi, CEO of McCann TLV, alumna of TAU’s Faculty of Humanities and the Coller School of Management 
  • Sarit Firon, Managing Partner & Co-Founder of Team8 Capital and Chairperson of Evogene, alumna of TAU’s Faculty of Social Sciences and the Coller School of Management 
  • Lior Eshkol, CEO of Wolt Israel, alumna of TAU’s Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering
  • Tami Bronner, Partner at the Vertex Venture Capital Fund, alumna of TAU’s Faculty of Social Sciences and the Coller School of Management 


See the full project (in Hebrew) on Globes’ website>

TAU graduates are making waves in Israel and beyond

Alumni News.

Alumni Advisory Committee: Spotlight

Udy Danino, founder and CEO of SAIPS, an international algorithmic solutions provider, is among leading alumni who devote their time and resources to TAU’s Alumni Advisory Community. Danino is a graduate of the Blavatnik School of Computer Science and Fleischman Faculty of Engineering. In 2016, under Danino’s leadership, SAIPS was acquired by the Ford Motor Company and it now plays a central role in the development of Ford’s autonomous vehicles.


From Retail Digitization to Cancer Eradication

Joel Bar-El is the co-founder and CEO of Trax, a global leader in retail digitization, with projects in 90 countries and close to 1,000 employees in 20 offices worldwide. Bar-El is also an active investor and recently joined forces with Ramot, TAU’s technology transfer company, to establish JaxBio, an initiative aiming to eradicate cancer through early diagnostics. He is an alumnus of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences.


​TAU Law Alumni Make Waves in the IDF

In November 2021, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced that Brig.-Gen. Orly Markman, alumna of the Buchmann Faculty of Law, would serve as the next president of the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) Court of Appeals. The position is the military equivalent of President of the Supreme Court. With this appointment, Markman will be promoted to Major-General, making her the third woman to receive the rank in IDF history. As a result, two female generals will now serve in the IDF’s General Staff for the first time. The second is Military Advocate General Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, another TAU law alumna.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, a graduate of TAU’s Entin Faculty of Humanities, heads the IDF’s Judge Selection Committee. Other TAU law alumni on the Committee include Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, also an alumnus of the Gordon Faculty of Social Sciences; Esther Hayut, Chief Justice of Israel’s Supreme Court; and her Deputy, Justice Neal Hendel.


Shaping Israeli Public Health


Prof. Ran Balicer, a graduate of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, is a leading expert and spokesperson for innovation in health and Israel’s response to COVID-19. Balicer serves as Chief Innovation Officer at Clalit Health Services, Israel’s largest health fund; Chairman of Israel’s COVID-19 Expert Advisory Team; and Chairman of the Israeli Society for Quality in Medicine.

Balicer recently spoke to 1,000 TAU alumni about predictive medicine in a webinar hosted by the TAU Alumni Organization. From his talk: “We live in an exciting era, thanks to technology and artificial intelligence. Instead of trying to repair the damage caused by diseases at a late stage, we now intervene early, even in the pre-disease stage, where the likelihood of a full cure is high and the damage from treatment is minimal. Israel is at the forefront of this global revolution.


Another Glass Ceiling Shattered


Former Member of Knesset Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin, a TAU law alumna, was recently appointed chairperson of the Israel Export Institute. She is the first woman to hold this role.






TAU 8th in World for Entrepreneurship

Ranked first among universities outside the US that produce successful entrepreneurs.

For the fourth year in a row, Tel Aviv University graduates are at the top of global entrepreneurship: 912 TAU undergraduate alumni, who have founded 761 companies and raised $26.8 billion in venture capital, make Tel Aviv University 8th in the world and 1st outside the US among universities that produce successful entrepreneurs, according to financial data company PitchBook.

Proud of Our Alumni

“We are proud to be included, for the fourth year in a row, among the top ten of the Pitchbook index,” says Sigalit Ben Hayoun, head of the Tel Aviv University Alumni Organization. “The entrepreneurial spirit of Tel Aviv University graduates is recognized among the business community and entrepreneurs around the world, and again we are in 8th place in the capital raising category. This list includes the founding alumni of the leading companies: Pioneer, Monday, Iron Source and many more. We are very proud of our alumni.”

TAU also leads in PitchBook‘s world ranking of female entrepreneurs who have founded companies with venture capital backing, placing 20th for TAU’s female undergraduate alumni and ranking 14th for female graduates of the Coller School’s MBA program.

Coller School’s MBA Program 13th in World

In PitchBook‘s separate global ranking for MBA programs, TAU’s Coller School of Management ranked 13th of 25 in producing MBA graduates who have founded venture capital-backed companies. Harvard, Stanford, and Whaton MBAs placed at the top of this list, while the MBA programs at Yale, Oxford, Cornell, Duke and other leading institutions ranked after TAU’s Coller School.

Altogether, 351 alumni with MBAs from TAU have raised a total of $8.8 billion for founding 330 companies, with the highest investments registered in Wiliot, Fabric, BlueVine, Forter, Houzz and others.

Prof. Moshe Zviran, Dean of the Coller School of Management and Chief Entrepreneurship and Innovation Officer at TAU says, “We are proud of the high international positioning of Tel Aviv University and the Coller School of Management. Our place among the world’s leading institutions reflects the achievements of our alumni and their contribution to the establishment and accelerated growth of many companies. The extensive knowledge, insight and toolbox acquired by students in all our programs and specializations assist our alumni in their entrepreneurial activities, giving them significant added value in the global technological and business arena.”

Close Connection with Industry – Key to Success

One of the reasons for the success of TAU alumni in entrepreneurship is the close connection that Tel Aviv University has with industry in Israel and around the world. The University’s Entrepreneurship Center plays an important role in providing a variety of ways in which students can work on projects with industry, connect to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and sources of funding for start-ups.

“Not everyone can be an entrepreneur, but everyone can study entrepreneurship,” says Yair Sakov, founder and head of the Entrepreneurship Center. “Each year, more than 4,000 students participate in the activities of the Center. The very exposure of such large and diverse audiences to the field, encourages creativity, innovation and in many cases leads to the establishment of start-ups. The center teaches entrepreneurial thinking and makes entrepreneurship tools accessible to students in all faculties, both as part of academic courses and in workshops, incubators and accelerators.”

Featured image: TAU students studying in group (Photo: Rafael Ben-Menashe)

TAU Alumni Fill Ranks in Israel’s New Government

Ten graduates among ministers in recently convened cabinet.

Upon the swearing in of Israel’s new Unity Government, the country’s 36th government, on Sunday night, Tel Aviv University would like to extend special congratulations to all the TAU alumni who are now serving as cabinet ministers. The Knesset (Israel’s parliament) approved the new coalition government in the wake of four inconclusive elections over the past two years.

Most Diverse in Israeli History

The new government is noted as the most diverse in Israeli history as it comprises representation from across the political spectrum from left-wing, centrist and right-wing parties. For the first time in decades, the country’s ruling faction includes an Arab party. It also has the highest representation of women cabinet ministers (9 out of 28) in Israeli history. Reflecting Israel’s diverse societal makeup, the new government is comprised of lawmakers from a vast range of social, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including Jews (observant and secular, Ashkenazi and Mizrahi), Druze, Muslims, native Israelis along with immigrants from Russia, Ethiopia and more. Tel Aviv University alumni assuming ministerial posts include:
  • Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, alumnus of the Buchmann Faculty of Law
  • Internal Security Minister Col. Omer Barlev, alumnus of the School of Political Science, Government and International Affairs, Gordon Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg, alumna of the Buchmann Faculty of Law
Furthermore, TAU alumnus of the Buchmann Faculty of Law, Idan Roll, has filled the position of Deputy Foreign Minister. In addition, due to the resignation as Knesset members of nine new ministers, six more TAU alumni have joined the Knesset, including two TAU professors – U.S.-born Prof. Alon Tal (chair of the Department of Public Policy) and Prof. Yossi Shain (School of Political Science). In total, 22 TAU alumni now serve as members in the current 24th Knesset. featured image: Israel’s 36th government 

TAU Graduates Bolster Israel’s Global Standing

Alumni in top diplomatic positions driven by a passion for Israel, share success stories from the field.

As a young girl growing up on a kibbutz, Galit Ronen wanted to change the world. At the time, she thought the way to do so was to become a geneticist: to learn how to feed the world and cure its diseases. This led her to TAU, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology. Today, she is Israel’s Ambassador to Argentina. Like Ronen, many TAU alumni serve Israel on the global frontlines as diplomats. They include Rony Yedidia-Clein, Deputy Head of Mission at Israel’s Embassy in India, and Ehud Eitam, Israel’s Consul General in Istanbul. All three see their alma mater as an important stepping stone in their careers.

Diplomacy from the Heart

Ronen took a job with Israel’s Foreign Ministry more than 25 years ago, when she tired of her post-university research job. “I honestly think Israel is a miracle. Look at where we started,” she says. “It’s a country I believe in and I love its people.” As for her current posting, she says Israel and Argentina enjoy good relations. President Alberto Fernandez visited Israel one month after his inauguration in 2019, only the second time that a sitting Argentinian president made a state visit. In the context of that trip, he also attended the 75th anniversary ceremony of the liberation of Auschwitz—a meaningful statement. In addition, much of the meat that Israel consumes comes from Argentina. During the first COVID-19 lockdown in spring 2020, Ronen was instrumental in securing the entry of shohetim, Jewish ritual slaughterers, into Argentina, thus ensuring that Israelis had sufficient kosher meat for Passover. On the global stage, Ronen thinks that Israel is in a better place than it has been in previous years. She attributes this to Israel’s vaccination campaign—“the whole world wants to learn from us”—and the recent peace accords with Arab nations. Besides representing the country she loves, she enjoys the opportunity to reinvent herself every few years when she moves to a new assignment. “You have no friends or contacts; by virtue of your personality and what you represent, you have to start from zero and prove yourself.” The flip side, she says, is the loneliness. Though her training as a scientist is far behind her, she has fond memories of TAU. “Most of my best friends to this day are from my time at University,” says Ronen. They include Prof. Udi Gazit, Founding Director of the BLAVATNIK CENTER for Drug Discovery. She mentions Prof. emer. Eliora Ron, with whom she remains in close touch, as having influenced her in the academic and personal spheres.   Galit Ronen (Photo: DEF)

“Zionism is Not a Dirty Word”

Like Ronen, Rony Yedidia-Clein was attracted to the Foreign Ministry because of a deep love of Israel. “Some people think Zionism is a dirty word but it’s not,” she says. The daughter of Israelis raised in the US, she made aliyah at age 18 to join the army. She went on to complete an undergraduate degree in English literature at TAU, where, she says, she learned critical thinking and communication skills that serve her until today, while enjoying “Tel Aviv’s special vibe.” As Deputy Chief of Mission in India, Yedidia-Clein says she is proud of the robust relationship that has developed in the nearly 30 years since the two countries initiated diplomatic relations. This good relationship paid off during COVID-19. India provided emergency masks and equipment to Israel at the beginning of the outbreak, before Israel could produce enough for its own emergency staff. More recently, during the  COVID-19 outbreaks in India this spring, the Embassy, in cooperation with Israeli government bodies, organized a massive airlift of aid supplies to the country’s hospitals and clinics, including ventilators, oxygen concentrators and medication, in an effort to save as many lives as possible. Aside from COVID-19, one of the Embassy’s main focuses now is a large-scale water project. Despite the fact that India possesses massive amounts of water, most of the population doesn’t have access to a clean, drinkable supply, Yedidia-Clein says. Through the Embassy, an Israeli expert will work with Indians to optimize use of this great resource. Though Yedidia-Clein has served as a diplomat in many countries, the achievement that stands out is her work coordinating Israel’s response to the massive earthquake in Turkey, where she was posted in 1999. “At three in the morning, I was woken up by the earth shattering and shaking.” Immediately, Israel sent civilian and military teams to help. “They used Israeli engineering ingenuity and chutzpah to get to places it should have been impossible to reach, such as taking a boat down a river because the roads weren’t accessible.” In addition to the many skills and “inner strengths” she has acquired throughout her career, Yedidia-Clein says that a diplomat’s most important quality is honesty. “It’s important to have people trust you and that means that you have to speak the truth,” she explains. “Israel is a country with problems like every other country in the world, whether we’re talking about migrant workers or our issues with the Palestinians or anything in between. The main thing is to show that we recognize our problems, and we’re doing our best to solve them.”   Rony Yedidia-Clein

At the Heart of Global Change

Ehud Eitam, Israel’s Consul General in Istanbul, another TAU graduate, boasts a diplomatic career of nearly 35 years. Prior to his current posting, he served as Israel’s Ambassador to Costa Rica and Peru, among other postings. Even after so much time, he still finds his job fascinating. “From the first stages on the job, you work directly with the top echelons of other countries,” he says. “You find yourself in the middle of huge and meaningful things.” He recalls when, during one of his postings, anti-Israel groups in Latin America attempted to prevent an Israeli company from winning a lucrative tender. The public pressure was so intense that Shimon Peres, then Foreign Minister, and Reuven Rivlin, Israel’s current President and then Communications Minister, got involved. The campaign culminated with Eitam appearing on a popular TV talk show, hosted by a local Palestinian. He knew that the interview would determine the campaign’s fate. Ultimately, the Israeli company won the tender, and Eitam views the episode as a tipping point in garnering more legitimacy for Israel in the region. One of his biggest achievements was during his first posting in Helsinki in the late 1980s. Finland had become a transit station for Jews flooding out of the Soviet Union, and, finding himself at a milestone of Jewish history, he became involved in many facets—economic, political, security and logistical. Eitam cites David Ben-Gurion who said that all diplomats wear two hats—as representatives of the State of Israel and of the Jewish community. “You have to make important practical decisions that could have wide-ranging consequences for the Jewish people as a whole.” Subsequently, Eitam established the Israeli Embassy in the Ukraine, one year after the country gained independence. He undertook the momentous task of building Israel’s ties with the country from scratch. His work there was especially significant because of the Ukraine’s rich and complicated past with the Jewish people; aliyah from the country was strong at the time, and Eitam facilitated and attended the first state visits between the countries’ leaders. After he’d been working in the field for nearly 20 years, Eitam returned to academia to complete a master’s degree in security and diplomacy at TAU. His studies allowed to him to gain insights on the vast experience he’d accrued, alongside other experienced professionals. He recalls courses with Profs. Nissan Oren and Azar Gat as well as Major Gen. (Ret.) Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel, which is an “experience in and of itself.” He was able to apply this knowledge in his subsequent positions. Eitam, Ronen and Yedidia-Clein are among thousands of TAU alumni who are members of TAU’s Alumni Organization, headed by Sigalit Ben Hayoun. The Organizaton’s goal is to leverage the influence of TAU alumni through shared knowledge and opportunities. And like Ronen and Yedidia-Clein, Eitam concludes that his main motivation to serve as a diplomat is Zionism. For Ronen, this same deep-rooted ideology means that he has fulfilled her childhood dream of tikkun olam. “I think representing Israel, changing one opinion at a time, is changing the world.”   ​ Ehud Eitam with the Japanese Consul and his wife By Melanie Takefman Featured image: Rony Yedidia-Clein (center, in white) in Rishikesh, during the Indian holiday of Holi.


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