Generating youth employment and economic empowerment opportunities through advancing the Palestinian innovation eco-system

Switzerland aims to support the development of a nascent Palestinian tech start-up community in order to generate jobs especially for young graduates and women, among whom unemployment is particularly high. This contribution to UNDP builds on a successful pilot in Gaza. It provides targeted support and mentoring to students in selected universities to incubate promising business ideas and strengthens the linkages between academia, private sector and business incubators. 

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Occupied Palestinian Territory
Employment & economic development
Employment creation
Business support & economic inclusion
SME development
01.01.2020 - 31.07.2025
CHF  2’585’000

Despite raising levels of education, four out of ten Palestinian youth have no jobs. Persisting high unemployment among youth is a fertile ground for radicalization. Creating jobs for young men and women in the oPt is hence an imperative not only for economic progress, but also for the stability of the region. 

New job opportunities for qualified youth arise from the global digital transformation, which is gaining space also in the oPt – a trend validated by the iGravity report commissioned in 2020 by the Swiss Cooperation Office for Gaza & the West Bank (SCO). Based on the report’s recommendations, the SCO is developing an innovation portfolio in teamwork with the Representative Office in Ramallah (SRO) and the Embassy of Tel Aviv (Tripartite) drawing on Swiss expertise in the field of innovation.  

The present contribution to the UNDP Programme is a key component of the innovation portfolio as outlined in the Cooperation Programme for the Near East 2021-24. It is coherent with the MENA strategy 2021-24, which sets digitalisation as a thematic priority.

The project builds on five years of UNDP experience in job creation through innovation and start up promotion. It benefits from ongoing efforts of the SRO to enhance cooperation between academy and the private sector. It further draws on established contacts of the Swiss Embassy in Tel Aviv to Tech companies and other ecosystem actors. Synergies are strived for with an SCO facilitated initiative of the Swiss Institute for Intellectual Property to strengthen local capacities in the field of trademarks and patents in order to foster an enabling environment for start-ups in cooperation with its Palestinian partner institute.


Contribute to generating new employment and economic empowerment opportunities through newly emerging Palestinian entrepreneurs and start-ups, supported by a more cohesive and integrated entrepreneurial community.

A strengthened Palestinian tech start up community with enhanced cooperation between academy and private sector generates employment opportunities and perspectives for Palestinian youth and women. 

Target groups Palestinian  university students and graduates, especially women.
Medium-term outcomes New economic empowerment opportunities generated through emerging Palestinian entrepreneurs and startups, supported by a more cohesive and integrated ecosystem.

Expected results:  

-    University students and fresh graduates develop enhanced entrepreneurial mindset and capacities for transitioning their research into business ideas;

-    An enriched, participatory and inclusive pipeline of new, market-driven business ideas rolled out in Palestinian incubators and accelerators; 

-    Showcased investments, improved enabling environment and enhanced access to information for a new generation of Palestinian start-ups,

Results from previous phases:    A study of tech start-up ecosystem in the oPt was performed by a Swiss based consultancy firm. Its results provide guidance for the development of SCO engagement in this field starting from this project.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
Foreign academic and research organisation
Private sector
Swiss Academic and Research Institution
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne
  • Foreign private sector South/East
  • Research Organisation of South East
  • United Nations Development Programme

Other partners
United Nations Development Program (UNDP) 
Coordination with other projects and actors

-    Synergies with other donors in particular EU, WB and SIDA;

-    Systemic cooperation with TLV embassy and  SRO Ramallah;

-    Synergies with the Institute of Intellectual Property Switzerland strengthening start-up environment; 

-    Synergies with the on-going engagements with FAO and Oxfam in areas relevant to agro-tech;

-    The project builds upon the experience gained through the on-going UNDP project in Gaza in areas relevant to innovation hubs development and start-up support through pre-seed funding. 

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    2’585’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    1’922’103
Project phases Phase 1 01.01.2020 - 31.07.2025   (Current phase)