How Students are Founding & Funding Startups at the University of Haifa

We held a Shark-Tank themed pitch competition to launch HIL FUND, Haifa University’s for-students-by-students venture fund.

The University of Haifa Innovation Labs, in collaboration with fresh.fund, is proud to announce the launch of Haifa University’s for-students-by-students venture fund - we call it, ladies and gentlemen, the HILL fund.


To test the waters, we held a “Shark Tank” themed pitch competition for the University of Haifa startups. We chose 5 of the best applying teams who went through a process of interviews, pitch workshops, and 1:1 professional mentoring sessions. Then, we asked students and graduates to vote for their favorite teams. 

Here are some stats:

  • 40 teams applied to the competition, 5 were selected as finalists, and 3 received prizes. Incredible!

  • Of those 40 teams, 75.5% were students and the rest were recent grads. Wow!

  • Verticals included agri-tech, AI, marketplaces, and mobile apps, with one in five building social impact solutions and a whopping 25% building digital health solutions. 

  • Participants included many founders from typically underrepresented sectors, including many women and Arab founders. Hurray!

  • Our judging panel included HILL FUND’s incoming student analysts together with industry leaders: Yifat Bret Grosman, (BA Student in comparative literature), Ivon Serham (BA student in Data and Cognitive Science), Liam Vanunu (BA student in Computer Science), On Fruend (WeWork Labs), Jumana Naser-Hakim, (Microsoft), Nicky Newfield, (Arc Impact), and Zaki Djemal (fresh.fund). 

  • In addition, 1,150 students and recent graduates voted on our crowdsourced voting platform for their favorite startup and the winner of the HIL Shark Tank Pitch Competition.

Without further ado, let us introduce the winning teams!

1st Place: Honey, I’m home!

Yaniv Finkelshtein, a law student, received a 10,000 NIS prize & office hours from fresh.fund & HIL to continue developing “Save the Bees”,  which uses advanced image processing technology within a sterilized box to recognize the deadly Varroa Mite pandemic by spraying powdered sugar on the bee and defend it from the pandemic.

2nd Place: Lifting the curtains

Aviv Kushnir, studying psychodrama, won 5,000 NIS & office hours from fresh.fund & HIL to continue developing a digital platform that provides individual initial guidance in psychological help using psychodramatic methods using a messaging app system. 

3rd Place: Holocaust VR

Shiran Melmam, studying tech-driven education, won office hours from fresh.fund and HIL to supercharge her educational VR application, aiming to change the way students are being educated about the Holocaust using advanced VR techniques. Bringing the experience of visiting Poland and other Holocaust memorial spaces in the world directly to your home by using VR glasses. 

The University Rector, Prof. Gustavo Mesch presented the check of 10,000 NIS and congratulated the teams for the effort and progress they made during the competition. 

Make sure to follow our activity at fresh.fund and HIL to stay updated on investments, events and more!