PITCH HAIFA winner to participate in Israel’s international startup event

Ambassador of Israel to the Philippines, His Excellency Rafael Harpaz

By Caesar Vallejos
Eagle News Service

An underwater 3D geospatial mapping and analytics startup was adjudged the winner of Pitch Haifa, a competition for innovative technology-oriented startups organized by the Embassy of Israel and the Israel Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines.

As the sole winner in the pitch competition held at the QBO Innovation Hub last October 24, 2018, Aaron Hilomen of Antipara Exploration will participate in the Start Haifa 2018 in December 2-7, 2018. It is an international startup competition in Israel with the aim “to give young startups the opportunity to immerse in Haifa’s vibrating ecosystem.”

Scalable startup

“I really want to go to Israel and I want to learn as much as I can and create networks,” Hilomen, the CEO of the winning startup said. As a home-grown startup, Hilomen said, “if we can make it outside (the country), that will be a cherry on the cake.”

His prize is to travel to Haifa which is in the north of Israel, a high-tech metropolis that boasts of an Innovation District encompassing “a variety of entrepreneurship hubs, top-leading startups, and academic centers that helps promote a thriving entrepreneurial community.”

He believes that his project was chosen because of its scalability and “our ambition to expand overseas.”

“I have always the loved the marine environment, I grew up there and I worked there. And I wanted to create a system that makes things much easier operating underwater and that’s the result of the exploration,” he said.

“For the longest time, we stagnated into something that was not really selling until we made that pivot.  You just have to listen to others.  Sometimes what you want does not really answer a need,” he advised.

Israel’s DNA

“The winner will be exposed to Israel innovation and Israel startup.  We have a lot of experience in Israel when it comes to  innovation and technology.  Startups are in our DNA,” Ambassador of Israel to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz said.

He emphasized that innovation is one of the key areas of cooperation between the Philippines and Israel. “I believe there is a great potential in the Philippines to create an innovative industry in technology.  The young generation is very very promising.  And there is a lot of interest among the private sector in Israel to cooperate with the Philippines,” the Ambassador stressed.

“Startup is a challenge.  Not all startups have succeeded.  Israel became a startup nation because we are willing to be always on the go and look for the next one.  If you didn’t succeed in one, we will go to another project,” Ambassador Harpaz said.

Pitch Haifa
Aaron Hilomen of Antipara Exploration (center) with the judges and organizers of PITCH HAIFA 2018.

He stressed having “to look for new solutions.”  The Ambassador  said, “if you are stuck in the traffic, Waze takes you out.  Waze was developed by two Israelis, they were very young and worked on how they can solve the problem of traffic.  They started the start up and look where they are now,” he said.

Stellar judges

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Assistant Secretary for International Cooperation, Dr. Leah J. Buendia congratulated the five finalists for “thinking out of the box, not only making things different but for making our lives better and making an impact to society.”  She was one of the pitch competition judges.

Department of Trade and Industry Export Marketing Bureau Director Senen Perlada said that they were looking for the “start-ups to scale up who will put the Philippines in the map in the development of a unicorn.”  He added, “if you solve a real problem or a pain point of the world, the world is yours.  It’s got to be something that will make a difference in the lives of people.”

“Pitch Haifa symbolizes the spirit of Israel’s entrepreneurship,” Itamar Gero, the President of the Israel Chamber of Commerce and Industry said. Using the word ‘hutzpah’, he explained  “it’s like you need to go somewhere, and if you need to do something, go get it, no excuses.”

With this attitude, he stressed that Israel helped achieve the world’s goals when in comes to medicine, agriculture and technology.