In an effort to help two Israeli technology startups successfully enter the US market, the Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI) has announced a partnership with business accelerator The Junction, located in Israel with additive manufacturing as one of its core areas. This formal partnership forms the basis of the Israel-Youngstown Business Incubator Collaborative, or I-YBI, as it will be providing a quality flow of business deals for other technology and additive manufacturing startups in Israel as they work to get started in the US.
The collaboration is partially supported by Youngstown native Barak Rabinowitz, the managing partner at venture capital fund F2 Capital that runs The Junction, which also counts HP and SAP as partners. With any luck, the partnership will bring about many other 3D printing business collaborations between the Mahoning Valley in Ohio and Israel.
Rabinowitz grew up watching the region’s factories and steel mills close their doors and young people going elsewhere for manufacturing jobs, which is why he’s so motivated to bring technology business, like 3D printing, to Ohio, and to Youngstown in particular. He met with Barb Ewing, the CEO of YBI, as they were both members of a local delegation that traveled to Israel this winter with the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, which is also providing funding by way of the Thomases Family Endowment.
“It’s rare to find a partnership that provides such great benefits for both parties,” said Rabinowitz. “YBI will get critical deal flow to help grow their clusters of Additive Manufacturing and software companies, and provides our companies with a great place to launch their products into the US market. This partnership brings an extra level of excitement because we’re able to work with an internationally acclaimed organization that also happens to be located in my hometown.”
Ewing said, “When we visited Israel earlier this year, we knew that we had a good story to tell about the region’s strengths and capabilities in AM, as well as YBI’s experience in taking software products to market. The fact that one of the preeminent investment funds in Israel is partnering with YBI to support the growth of their technology firms validates our expertise in technology commercialization, as well as the strength of the additive manufacturing cluster in the region.”
The Junction sends out a call for applications every six months for one of the five spots it has available in its business accelerator program. Once five are chosen out of the over 200 companies it typically hears from, The Junction provides them each with an initial $100,000 investment. By working with YBI, the accelerator offers its companies a good way to ease into the US market.
YBI will help the startups the accelerator chooses re-locate to the US, and hopefully, as Ewing says, to the Mahoning Valley, which offers a low cost living, access to larger market, YBI’s experience, and “this clustering we’ve created for additive manufacturing and how it touches other clusters.” Youngstown is a growing haven for 3D printing technologies, and is also the home to America Makes, the US’ national accelerator for additive manufacturing, which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. Ewing shared her thoughts at that event with us regarding 3D printing in the US, and what makes Youngstown so uniquely positioned to enhance the adoption of additive manufacturing in this country.
“We’ll have access to all that deal flow for trying to identify companies that are ready to launch into the U.S. market,” Ewing said.
“You cannot launch a successful company in Israel that addresses only the Israeli market. You have to go into Asia or North America or Europe. There’s just no way to scale a company within the geographic boundary that is Israel, and obviously they don’t have friendly relations with their neighbors.”
The two startups currently working with the I-YBI collaborative are nanofabrica, which is working to mass-produce 3D printed micro and nano parts, and PrintCB, which has developed a disruptive copper-based 3D printing ink product and is working to develop next-generation printer electronics materials. According to PrintCB founder Sagi Daren, the startup has been able to contact companies in the Pittsburgh-to-Cleveland region that are now customers and development partners, thanks to the collaborative; I-YBI is also helping PrintCB find investors.
Rabinowitz said, “We identified additive manufacturing as a big opportunity in general. Then it was a question of where do we create opportunities to connect innovative startups with real businesses with real needs with existing customers.
“We found a great ecosystem in this area, with hard-working people who understand what we are doing and are keen to try it. Also, there are many large manufacturing corporations based in this area, which makes it very attractive.”
“I don’t think we fully understand the value proposition that we have between YBI’s experience, the lab, the cluster,” said Ewing. “We’re just now learning how to tell that story in a way that’s meaningful. When you have Israeli companies that grow up in a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship recognize that you’ve got something special and unique, you need to pay attention and take advantage.”
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com, or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.[Sources: Crain’s Cleveland Business, The Business Journal, The Vindicator]