Israel’s vibrant tech economy is largely closed to the country’s Arab citizens. “Tell an Arab entrepreneur to call a venture-capital fund in Herzliya, and it will be hard for him to get past the secretary,” Sharon Devir says. Devir runs New Generation Technology, a government-supported incubator of biotech startups that’s designed to address that: Many of NGT’s companies have Arab-Israeli entrepreneurs and Jewish-Israeli managers.
Founded in July 2002 and funded initially by five Arab-Israeli investors and a Jewish partner, NGT has helped launch 10 companies tackling everything from cavities to prostate cancer, and now has $10 million invested in them.
Kamal Khawaled is an Arab chemist and the entrepreneur behind Fluorinex Active, which makes a tooth decay-prevention device that’s up for FDA approval. “It’s no secret that being an Arab in a Jewish world is an obstacle. I don’t accept it, but I get it,” he says. “But we live in this reality, and we can choose to leave all the nonsense behind us.”