Aharon Aharon, Apple Israel Chief, to Head Innovation Authority
Aharon Aharon, who has led Apple’s operations in Israel for the past five years, has been named the first director of the newly formed Israel Innovation Authority, putting him charge of Israel’s technology policy and overseeing aid programs to the industry.
Aharon, 60, began his career at IBM, later working as chief operating officer at Zoran Corporation and CEO of the startups Seabridge and Camero. He played a key role in launching Apple’s Israel operations, which now employ 800 people and is the company’s second-biggest research and development operation.
Aharon served in the Israel Defense Forces’ elite Intelligence Unit 8200 and holds two degrees from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology.
“Aharon brings huge knowledge to the authority – he was in startups, and in big and large organizations, and brings with him important connections in Israel and overseas,” said Avi Hasson, chief scientist in the Economy Ministry and the authority’s chairman.
Aharon will be taking over at a time when the Israeli high-tech industry has been raising record amounts of capital and tapping new segments such as autonomous vehicles. But the industry faces a growing shortage of skilled engineers and other professionals, and Israeli companies outside the high-tech sector often lag in introducing innovative new products and processes.
To help address the labor shortage, the authority is working with government bodies on a 750-million-shekel ($196 million) program to increase the number of engineering graduates by 40% and reduce a yawning shortfall of some 1,000 jobs that the country’s high-tech companies cannot fill every year. On Monday the authority unveiled a new visa category for foreign entrepreneurs to work in Israel and form new companies.
At the same time, however, the authority has had to make do with less money than in the past. Its budget for this year was 1.56 billion shekels, the lowest in five years, after spending was cut by 100 million to free up money for Arye Dery’s Negev and Galilee Development Ministry.
Unlike the Office of the Chief Scientist, which was a unit of the Economy Ministry, the Israel Innovation Authority was launched at the start of this year as an independent agency.
Hasson, 46, who has been chief scientist for six years, is supposed to wind up his term as Innovation Authority chairman at the end of the year. But no search committee has been named to find a successor, TheMarker has learned.
The Economy Ministry said a committee would be formed in the coming days and that Hasson would be asked to stay as chairman for several more months, until a successor is named.
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