Shimon Peres Innovation Center in Tel Aviv, or Where the Present and Future Intersect

The Shimon Peres Innovation Center in Tel Aviv was opened in February 2019 in a pilot phase for visitors. The new spacious building built on the seashore at Jaffa is unique in that all the main Israeli inventions are concentrated in one place, regardless of their origins. The Center recalls Peres’s legacy, his visionary focus on science and technology, and his support for innovation to secure not just Israel’s economic prosperity, but also peace and stability in neighbouring states.

In front of the entrance to the architecturally distinctive building, the white lettering “Dream Big” draws the visitor’s attention and, contrasting with the surface of the sea, is a reminder of the often-stated Peres quote, “We should use our imagination more than our memory.” The fact that the exhibition is dedicated to Israeli start-ups and their role in the Israeli innovation system is noted in the welcome panel, which provides the encouragement: “Let’s begin together, entrepreneurs, your journey starts here .”

The inspirational entrance hall showcases the main fields of research in which Israel has achieved results of global significance. These are medical technology, IT technology and cyber-security, agricultural technology and technology related to mobility.

The guided tour begins on the first floor, which is focused on the recent past. In the “Secrets of Innovation” section, visitors can learn about individual key participants in the innovative ecosystem and their extraordinary stories. These include Nobel Prize winners, scientists and entrepreneurs of various generations and origins, to whom you can pose four questions. Using interactive panels, the person you choose will tell you about their childhood, describe their best idea, share a challenge they overcame, or give you advice.

Another room entitled Innovative Nation provides the answer to the question of how Israel built itself up to become a global innovation power. On a large interactive timeline located on the wall, you can see major Israeli innovations, along with their development and connections in the fields of high tech, medicine, agriculture and social sciences. What is fascinating about visiting the Peres Center is that it offers a combination of interactive and experiential learning. Group work is done on smaller interactive panels in which participants have the opportunity to more thoroughly investigate one specific discovery, while answers to specific questions can be found on the surrounding walls and display cases. After group work, it’s time to relax and reflect, so you can take a visit to Shimon Peres’s study. The film screened here introduces us to the life of a man who had a fundamental impact on the development of the State of Israel from the time of its founding to the present day, but whose visions have also directed the state’s future.

On the next storey, visitors are welcomed by a robot. We find ourselves in the future. We enter a time capsule, and using VR headsets we begin to perceive what challenges the human race is going to have to deal with, and how technology can help us overcome these problems. Which technologies in digital medicine, nanorobotics, smart travel and space travel will be fundamental to solving the key problems of the future?

From the future, we return to the present. The basement provides a showcase of 45 of the best contemporary Israeli start-ups with global impact. The presented companies arose from a public tender run by the Ministry of Trade to which over 1000 entities applied. These include world-renowned leaders on the start- up scene such as Mobileye, Orcam and the Beresheet space probe, currently heading for the moon. The Center’s generous sponsors don’t miss out either, with their activities also presented on interactive panels, so in addition to the standard thank-you message they also get befitting PR. The start-ups showcased, like the sponsorship companies, will be regularly rotated every six months so that the exhibition always remains up-to-date and inspirational.

I recommend anyone travelling to Tel Aviv to include the Innovation Center on their list of places to visit. For families with kids, I should add that a visit is recommended for children from ten years of age upwards. Tickets need to be booked in advance on their website.

By Linda Štucbartová