For the past several years, Israel has been a major tech and innovation hub, with startups like Waze, Fiverr and Viber gaining praise and users all around the world. It only makes sense that beyond professionals, tech-curious amateurs could experiment with innovation and bring their own ideas into life.
One of the world’s biggest fablabs
After allowing the opening of a huge fab lab in the Museum of Science + Industry Museum in Chicago, the Wanger Family made a donation to MadaTech, the Israel National Museum of Science, Technology & Space, to open an even bigger fab lab (one of the world’s biggest ones, actually). The fab lab is part of MadaTech’s Innovation Center, which aims to expose visitors to innovative ideas, technologies and practices, and completes the museum’s mission by allowing visitors to actually experiment tech. With 27 3D printers, 30 digital design stations, laser cutter, digital milling stations, 3D scanners and plenty of room, the Wanger Family fab-lab is a place where people from 5 to up can come in, take part in workshops and try to become an actor of the tech ecosystem.
To make it easier to become a maker, MadaTech offer a full catalogue of courses that range from building the visitors own projects to introduction classes for various technologies and techniques. Along with advanced classes and family activities, MadaTech offers the opportunity to take part in Community activities, collective evenings that are open to anyone who wants to volunteer and help project that actually help the community, like board games for the visually impaired created by high school students.
By accepting the donation to create a fab lab, MadaTech expanded its mission from exhibiting science to actually engaging young people to find their own use of science.
A platform app to build content-oriented games
Other Israeli museums found a different way to engage teens and make them come back to explore their exhibitions. Have you heard about Museloop? Created by museum-lover Nathalie Half, this startup offers a solution for any museum that wants to easily create their museum app to engage teens.
Through a simple platform, museums can upload their own content to set up a whole gamified experience that brings both fun and knowledge about collections and exhibitions. Puzzles, quizzes and various games that require thorough observation of the exhibits turn the app into a guide that forces teens to find answers to properly progress in the game before moving on to the next exhibition.
The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Museum of Jewish People and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art have already launched their apps on both iOS and Android thanks to Museloop. The Israel Museum even gives away two free tickets to the highest scorer of each day so they can come back. As the apps require login, they also probably allow targeted CRM that can prove very effective in building a long-term relationship.
A hackathon to foster future startups
If Israel has become the Startup Nation, it is because startups have been supported by the government, foreign embassies and universities. The same dynamic has been applied to a hackathon earlier this year. Last April, the Tower of David, a medieval citadel that has been known for always being innovative since its opening to visitors in 1989, has hosted “Hacking the Walls”, a hackathon aiming to bring culture, animation and AR/VR players together to create an Israeli ecosystem by enriching the visitor experience in museums.
While the partners and sponsors of the event include organization whose mission is to promote innovation in Israel, like the high tech and entrepreneurship program Jnext and the Israel Innovation Institute, corporations like EY or Epson have also found it interesting to be part of this hackathon that aimed at finding new ways of using cutting-edge tech in a museum to embrace changes in the way people are meeting museums today. As TOP director of new media Eynat Sharon sums up, “Museums are a participatory experience today and the focus is the visitor and not the object anymore”, which explains the need to reinvent the offered experience through digital.
Winners of the hackathon were a team called Zombie Rat, made of 2 adults and 3 high schoolers (innovation starts young!), that developed Escape the Kishle, an AR/VR-based escape game that uses the technology developed by WakingApp, an Israeli startup.
It offers a new innovation to the Tower of David, which found it important to be able to reinvent itself to attract a younger audience – even with an award winning mobile website and a museology that was only 3 years old and already used tech and design.
And what about a museum to display all those innovations? Well, it opens soon. All kinds of cutting-edge technologies are developed in Israel and they will be exhibited in one place as of 2018. The museum will aim to educate younger generations about tech and how it can change the world to maintain Israel’s position as a technological power. The four-floor building, supported by the government and located at theIsraeli Innovation Center, will not only be a great place to inspire future local entrepreneurs, but can also become a place for people from all around the world to gather ideas and best practices from one of the most innovative countries in the world.