Entrepreneurial University of the Year Award

Tel Aviv University Entrepreneurship Center

Finalist of the Entrepreneurial University of the Year Award

"Make it Happen!"


The most unique feature in TAU’s Entrepreneurship Center (EC) is the fact that its curriculum and activities were developed and are offered to students of all disciplines as a part of their degree. Not as an add-on, not as a special program for outstanding students, but as a high-quality, in-depth, hands-on program, to students of the Humanities, Social Sciences, Arts, Law, Medicine, Exact Sciences, Life Sciences, Design, Engineering and Business. Other universities’ programs are targeted at engineering and management students and/or, are offered only to exceling students. The fact that TAU is offering this program so broadly is quite unique.

A second key to TAU uniqueness is the extent and breath of our academic program. Our curriculum, holds over 30 courses from which the students can elect to study up to a total of 16 credits. For example, a BA in Philosophy requires 120 credits. A Philosophy student looking to study entrepreneurship can elect to study 104 credits in Philosophy and 16 credits on entrepreneurship (15% of the degree!) to qualify for a BA degree in Philosophy with entrepreneurship studies. In addition, we developed a broad layer of Experiential Entrepreneurship where we have students work on real industry (government, private, social) problems and opportunities. Included in this are soft-skills extracurricular studies. Lastly, our courses and extra-curricular activities are based on industry participation. The intention is that in each course or activity, students will work with industry mentors and guests. This part is still being developed but so far, we had 10s of mentors participate in our activities.


Entrepreneurship Class


Entrepreneurship Activities

Entrepreneurship Activities2


Impacting lifes

Can entrepreneurship be leveraged to resolve decades of ethnic conflict? While Jews and Arabs are equal citizens in Israel, both groups have strong bias and prejudice towards each other. This escalates tension, misunderstanding, lack of communication and as a whole, negatively impacts the cohesiveness of Israel’s society. Research has shown that having conflicting groups meet on an equal basis and perform meaningful work together, can reduce prejudice, bias and fear from one another. Hence, TAU EC decided to open an Arab-Jewish Start-up Accelerator program where each start-up team must be composed of Jews and Arabs. How the program addresses the conflict? • Accelerator programs are very attractive. Start-up teams are looking to join high-quality programs to advance their company. We believed that a TAU accelerator with highly reputable workshop leaders and mentors, will attract start-up teams regardless of the bicultural requirement.

• This is a highly-intensive program. Team members are required to work closely together, trust each other and drive together to become the winning team. The result is a team atmosphere where Arabs and Jews are members, not adversaries.

• The program broadens each groups’ network of contacts thus further enables assimilation of both groups as now they have the ability to broaden their business ties in each other’s society.

The accelerator is underway. Nine teams, 38 students, 11 Arabs and 27 Jews. 25% of mentors are from the Arab society. It is quite exciting to see the teams working together and relationships evolve. The US Embassy in Israel recognized the program and elected it for one of its grants.


Lessons learned

By establishing the Entrepreneurship Center, our objective is to drive an infrastructural and sustainable change in TAU. Impacting not just students but also the academic staff injecting the entrepreneurial mindset and tool-kit to their daily work as researchers and teachers. A typical strategy to establish an EC would be to start with extracurricular programs. These do not need to adhere to academic regulation and hence, easy to establish. However, the institutional impact is low to non-existent. To drive an infrastructural change, one must touch the “holy-grail” of the academia: either research or education. These are the two key functions of an academic institution. This is where the attention and investments are. Hence, a change in one of these dimensions creates a deep impact on the institution.

Our approach was to start with the academic education. One strategy would be, to work with one or two departments, start a pilot and move on from there. However, we felt that the right way to create a real and lasting impact is to approach all departments in parallel. Once two of them agreed to assimilate entrepreneurship studies as part of their degree program, the domino effect worked and other departments joined. This was a risky approach, but isn’t it what entrepreneurship is all about?


What's coming?

The following is a mix of actual future plans and general aspirations. Industry Projects – we are looking to start two major ‘challenges’ – a year-long project based on real industry needs involving research and implementation. These will be sponsored, mentored and escorted by leading industrial companies in Israel.

Academic studies – we plan to expand the scope of entrepreneurship studies to 32 credits enabling students to go beyond practical entrepreneurship and study the academic body of research developing critical thinking of methods, societal impact and more.

Academic Research – to further engage the academic staff, we would like to encourage diverse multi-disciplinary research in the field of entrepreneurship. There are multitude of aspects to entrepreneurship in social sciences, law, and other disciplines. Research grants are key to engaging academic staff.


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