The top cities for starting something new: Tel Aviv

Why you should consider relocating to this Israeli city in 2021.
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The lowdown

Why you should consider it: 

Tel Aviv is undoubtedly the Middle East’s tech, financial and startup hub.

Who it’s good for: 

The laid-back who want to secure a foothold in the Middle East.

Why now: 

Its business culture is more open and accessible than ever. 

This seafront metropolis has beaches and 300 annual days of sunshine. On top of that, it has the highest number of startups per capita in the world: in 1990, there were just 500 startups; today there are more than 5,000. 

There are also hundreds of venture capital funds and acceleration programmes. What’s more, it’s a great place to start your own business: not only are there plenty of like-minded founders and a support structure already in place, but the city offers political stability not found in many other places in the region. Restaurants, cafes, bars – and plenty of and co-working spaces, too – are spread across the city’s 20 square miles.

A fertile ground for startups

Kobi Marenko, founder of Arbe Robotics ‘Tel Aviv was built in the spirit of an international city,’ says Kobi Marenko, CEO of Arbe Robotics, whose 4D high-resolution radar for vehicle sensors hit the market last year.

‘You can find an incredible amount of talent here, especially in engineering.’ Arbe is Kobi’s third startup, and has raised $55m since launching in 2015. Although he hails from Tel Aviv, he could not have chosen a better location for his company were he not. 

In contrast to the political-religious focus of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv has flourished as Israel’s seat of regional stability and international business. There’s an emphasis on tech, too, that stems from the country’s stress on scientific education – Israel spends 4.9% of its GDP on scientific R&D, the highest in the world. 

Such prospects – plus the chance of getting a foothold in the Middle East – have attracted startups from around the world, plus all the accoutrements that come with them, such as VCs. ‘In Israel, there are more VCs per square metre than anywhere in the world,’ says Kobi. Tel Aviv has become fertile ground for launching prototypes, thanks to the low operational costs and salaries relative to, say, San Francisco. 

There are challenges, of course: while homegrown talent is rife, Kobi notes a shortage of international skill in certain areas, and the government has laws that make hiring from abroad difficult. But find the right team and it’s smooth sailing. ‘You can launch a prototype in no time.’ 

Find more of the top cities for starting something new in 2021.

This article was first published in Courier Issue 37, October/November 2020. To purchase the full issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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