Boston-Haifa Innovation Zones

I’m on a Boston-Haifa “City to City” tour to help Boston get insights for the creation of an Innovation Zone in its Seaport District.

A group of 27 members of the Boston business and civic community are meeting with municipal, technology, and university leaders in Haifa and Tel Aviv, Israel through the City to City program run by Northeastern University and Mayor Menino.

Israel is one of the world leaders in producing a high quality skilled workforce that has attracted many of the leading global technology companies including Intel, who has here its largest R&D/production facility outside the US. (A great read: the new book: “Start-up Nation.”)

The first day we spent time with Haifa’s Mayor Yonah Yakov and the city’s Haifa Economic Corp. (HEC). To get companies to invest in their tech park, the City offers a 20% discount on municipal taxes. In their incubator building, start-ups get 3 years income tax free and 1:1 investment match with the government up to $200,000.

The Mayor was very generous with his time. He is a visionary, willing to risk political & infrastructure capital to get major projects started. Need a permit in 3 weeks? He can deliver. He took an abandoned area of the downtown, put in public areas and walkways, brought a new college into the district with classrooms and dorms and 2,500 students in only 3 years. Now they have restaurants, shops and galleries moving in.

Haifa is on the move!

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