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Building the Infrastructure for Innovation

By Rateb Rabi

The last decade has witnessed a remarkable shift in the Palestinian economy. Tech startups have emerged left and right as more entrepreneurs take the risk to make their ideas a reality. Given the abundance of talented and driven entrepreneurs in Palestine, one might wonder: Why aren’t there more success stories?Creating a startup requires drive, talent, passion, and a significant amount of time. However, having access to a well-established entrepreneurial infrastructure is essential to overcoming the many challenges that startups are likely to face. This infrastructure includes resources such as mentorship, access to networks, funding, and technical expertise.

One of the major challenges in establishing a strong entrepreneurial infrastructure is the geographic fragmentation imposed on Palestine. Checkpoints, sieges, and export restrictions can stifle the efforts of even the most resourceful entrepreneurs. At the most basic level, this fragmentation limits opportunities for team-building and knowledge transfer to an entrepreneur’s immediate surroundings.

Moreover, significant regional disparities have prevented many entrepreneurs who hold our society’s most innovative ideas from accessing the resources they need. In Ramallah, for example, there are more than 15 organizations that offer support for startups, ranging from capacity-building to incubation. Unfortunately, beyond Ramallah, the infrastructure is still catching up.


WomenInCTRL hackathon held in November 2022 at
Intersect Innovation Hub in Ramallah. The aim was
to provide a platform for woman-led startups.

To overcome this geographic fragmentation and ensure that all entrepreneurs in Palestine have access to the resources they need, it is essential to establish a strong network of support throughout the country. This network should include not only incubators and accelerators but also educational institutions, government agencies, and private investors.

In 2020, Intersect Innovation Hub – as part of the Bank of Palestine Group – launched its first incubator in Ramallah, providing a diverse range of services to support entrepreneurs throughout their growth journey. In May 2023, we will be opening our hub in Nablus, offering a variety of services and support programs for the city’s entrepreneurs. Our goal is to expand the services available in the northern West Bank, in close proximity to Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Jenin, and surrounding villages. There is a great deal of innovation in the north, and this central hub aims to connect innovators in the region with the necessary support. Coming later in 2023, Intersect Innovation Hub will be launching in Hebron – creating another bridge for entrepreneurs in the southern West Bank.

With the support of Bank of Palestine, Intersect is able to strategically operate hubs in each region of Palestine, thus setting in place the critical infrastructure needed to level the playing field. We aim to ensure that every innovator is connected, and every innovative idea has a chance to succeed.

In the upcoming months, we’ll be collaborating with many different stakeholders to create a vibrant and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem that drives innovation, creates jobs, and improves the life of every Palestinian.

With the right infrastructure in place, we can unleash the full potential of Palestine’s talented and driven entrepreneurs – and build a brighter future for all.

Applications are now open for our Startups-in-Residence program in Nablus! Go to www.intersecthub.org/startups-in-residence to learn more and apply.

  • Rateb H. Rabi is the managing director at Intersect Innovation Hub, Fintech-Cybersecurity, and InsureTech Hub. He is also the founding curator of Global Shapers East Jerusalem Hub.

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