You have 10 free articles left this month. Get your freeBasic subscription now and gain instant access to more.

InnoStart Forum 2019: The Israeli Experience (Part 1)*

Author AmCham
InnoStart Forum 2019: The Israeli Experience (Part 1)*

    The international conference InnoStart Forum presents the Israeli experience in building an innovation and start-up nation.

    The event is a unique opportunity to listen and meet some of the most prominent experts and leaders of the Israeli innovation eco-system.


InnoStart Forum 2019 welcomes some of the most active people of the vibrant entrepreneurial and startup eco-system of the state of Israel. They will share their experience of building a sustainable environment focused on talents, network, venture capital and growth.

All of them have huge impact in the Israeli innovation scene, and they are coming for their first trip to Bulgaria to share knowledge, to speak with counterparts and to explore opportunities with the Bulgarian venture and startup community.


InnoStart Forum 2019 in Brief

The one-day forum will gather high-level government officials and international businesses from Israel, USA and the SEE region to explore best practices for building of a sustainable start-up ecosystem and innovation community. Venture and corporate representatives, investors, entrepreneurs, selected startups, universities and governments will share thought-leadership to thrive on the global stage.

International experts of digital transformation, as artificial intelligence, fintech, cybersecurity and biogenic, will present their innovative experience. Participants will gain knowledge from companies creating cutting-edge technologies through interactive sessions. Panels will discuss specifics of the tech- and startup-ecosystem and will highlight key factors such as funding, talent, market reach, corporate and government involvement.


Chemi Peres – The Innovation Pioneer of Israel

Chemi Peres is one of Israel’s foremost venture capital and innovation pioneers, serving as Managing General Partner and Co-Founder of Pitango Venture Capital, Israel’s leading Venture Capital Group, with a portfolio of some 230 global hi-tech companies. Mr. Peres, with a wealth of experience, is an integral part of the thriving Israeli innovation scene and key player on the global entrepreneurial stage. Mr. Peres serves on the board of directors of numerous companies such as Taboola and Via Transportation, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries – global leader in generic pharmaceuticals.

Chemi has dedicated himself to continuing the legacy of his late father, Ninth President of Israel, Shimon Peres, by fulfilling his vision through leading the implementation of his numerous initiatives and activities in the field of Peace and Innovation.

Chemi serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Peres Center for Peace & Innovation, Israel’s leading non-profit organization, established in 1996 by Shimon Peres. Chemi is leading the Peres Center’s flagship initiative, the Israeli Innovation Center, which will tell the remarkable story of Israel as the Innovation Nation. The Peres Center is a pioneer in developing and implementing innovative and cutting-edge peacebuilding programs in the fields of Innovation, Peace Education, Medicine, Business, and Environment, bringing together tens of thousands of Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians in meaningful cooperation over the last 21 years.

Chemi had and still has many leadership roles in variety of organizations that nurture and boost innovation and peace in the region. He founded and served as Chairman of Israel Venture Capital Association (aka IAI - Israel Advanced Technology Industries) and was Chairman of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce.


Nili Shalev represents the Israel Innovation Authority

As a Managing Director, ISERD, Israel Innovation Authority, Nili has more than 20 years of experience representing the Ministry of Industry and Trade in a wide range of executive positions. From 2011 as Israel’s Economic Minister to North America she is responsible for promoting trade and investment between North America and Israel. Ms. Shalev served as the Director of the International Projects and Financing Department at the Foreign Trade Administration in the Ministry of Industry Trade and Labor.

She managed several multimillion-dollar funds to promote and finance Israeli industries. In 2010 Ms. Shalev was the Executive Director of the Foreign Trade Administration elite cadet course for commercial attaché’s.

Starting in mid-1990s she held various positions both in private and public sectors gaining unique experience on three continents and working towards the promotion and the growth of the technological sector.

Ms. Shalev holds an MBA (1996) , an MA in Communications (1996) and a BA in International Relations (Cum Laude, 1989-1992), from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She is married with two children


Gabby Czertok from The Builders

Gabby Czertok is a technology and people enthusiast who has been combining both of his passions throughout his career to create unique approaches to problem solving.

He is the General Manager, The Builders and the Managing Partner, The Builders Fund. Gabby has founded and leads The Builders, an innovation platform comprised of various activities such as commercialization programs, R&D innovation activities and The Builders Fund, supporting fortune 100 companies such as Coca-Cola, Turner Broadcasting, Mercedes-Benz and Walmart in their journey to implement technology to solve business needs. 

Previously Gabby was the CEO of a startup in the water industry and spent many years in the cyber security space. In addition, Gabby serves as an advisory board member in multiple startups and non-profit organizations, is on the board of the 8,200 alumni organization and has an LLB from Tel-Aviv University.


Ornit Shinar from Citi Israel

Ornit joined Citi Ventures in March 2017 to lead its venture investment activities in Israel. Her focus of interest includes data analytics & Machine Learning, cybersecurity and FinTech. As part of her role, she also manages the Tel Aviv Accelerator.

Prior to this role, Ornit ran External Innovation and Business Development for Lenovo in Europe and Israel. In this capacity, she invested in Cloud technologies as well as Artificial Intelligence and biometric authentication. Prior to Lenovo, Ornit worked at Citi, where she founded and ran the first Accelerator out of Citi’s Tel Aviv Lab and co-founded Citi’s women’s network in Israel. Prior to Citi, she founded and served in managerial roles in several companies.

Ornit founded Yazamiyot, Israel's leading women's entrepreneur network, and she was selected by Haaretz (one of Israel's leading newspapers) as one of 66 Women You Should Know. Ornit, who clerked for the President of the Israeli Supreme Court, holds a joint honors degree in English Law and French Law from the London School of Economics and an LLM cum laude from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Government Officials

The event will be attended by Tomislav Dontchev, Deputy Prime Minister, Republic of Bulgaria; Rossen Zhelyazkov, Minster of Transport, ITC, Republic of Bulgaria, Republic of Bulgaria.

Pursuing the improvement of the business ties with the Western Balkans their presence was confirmed by Damjan Manchevski, Minister of Information Technologies, and Administration, Northern Macedonia and Nenad Popovic, Minister of Innovation and Technological Development, Republic of Serbia.


About the event

The official website of the conference is:

The event is created and organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria. The Israeli-American Chamber of Commerce is the co-organizer. The conference has the support of the Embassy of the United States of America in Bulgaria and the Embassy of the state of Israel in Bulgaria.



Main partners of the InnoStart Forum 2019 is Telelink.

Golden sponsors are A1 Bulgaria, Coca-Cola Bulgaria, Cisco Systems, Google Cloud, IBM, PwC Bulgaria, UniCredit Bulbank.

Silver sponsors are America for Bulgaria Foundation, Bright Cap Ventures, Citibank, Merck Sharp & Dohme.


Media partners

The media partners of the event are the Bulgarian Telegraphic Agency,, BloombergTV Bulgaria, SeeNews.



AmCham Bulgaria Weekly Newsletter is an excellent outlet with news, stories, analysis, events, and offers from AmCham Bulgaria and its global network.

AmCham is active in LinkedIn

For contact with AmCham Bulgaria, incl. Board for interview inquiries, please contact Daniel Kiryakov, Communications Manager, Т: +359 2 974 27 43, М: +359 885 188 626, E-mail:

*This article is published as part of a media partnership between SeeNews and AmCham.