Technion and Cornell to build campus in New York

Friday, December 30th, 2011

PM Netanyahu congratulates Technion on New York campus decision
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Technion Executive Vice President and director General Dr. Avital Stein and congratulated her on the selection of the Technion, along with Cornell University, to build an applied science and engineering campus in New York City.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “This is an additional achievement for the Technion less than ten days after Professor Dan Shechtman won the Nobel Prize. This is additional proof of the accomplishments of local technology, and a source of pride for both higher education and the entire State of Israel.”

About the project

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Cornell University President David J. Skorton, and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology President Peretz Lavie on Monday, December 19, announced an historic partnership to build a two-million-square-foot applied science and engineering campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City. “Thanks to this outstanding partnership and groundbreaking proposal from Cornell and the Technion, New York City’s goal of becoming the global leader in technological innovation is now within sight,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

The campus will be organized around three interdisciplinary hubs: Connective Media, Healthier Life, and the Built Environment. Cornell will immediately offer Master and Doctoral degrees in areas such as Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Information Science and Engineering. In addition, after receiving the required accreditation, the campus will also offer innovative Technion-Cornell dual Master of Applied Sciences degrees.

The NYCTech Campus will host entrepreneurs-in-residence, organize business competitions, provide legal support for startups, reach out to existing companies to form research partnerships and sponsor research, and establish a pre-seed financing program to support promising research. The NYCTech Campus will also establish a $150 million revolving financing fund that will be solely devoted to start-up businesses in the City.

Cornell is widely known as a global leader in the fields of applied science, engineering, technology and research, as well as commercialization and entrepreneurship. Cornell is home to the top-rated Ivy League engineering program and is one of only a handful of institutions with top-10 programs in the key disciplines that drive today’s tech sector: Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Materials Science and Nanotechnology, and Information Science.

Like Cornell, the Technion also has a world-class track-record in research, development and entrepreneurship. The Technion’s departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science are considered to be among the best in the world. The Technion boasts top ranking faculty members including Nobel laureates -the most recent, Professor Dan Shechtman – who just last week accepted the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Professor Shechtman is also well-known for his course on entrepreneurship, now in its 26th year and boasting 10,000 graduates. The Technion has long been considered a driving force behind Israel’s emergence as one of the world’s great centers of technology. 

Israel today has one of the highest concentrations of high-tech start-up companies globally. In partnership with a strong community of incubators, private investors, venture capitalists, angel groups and entrepreneurs, the Technion’s tech transfer arm, Technion Technology Transfer (T3), has filed an average of 300 new patents each year and annually nurtures innovative startups in sectors such as clean-tech, cell therapy, drug delivery, nanotechnology and others. Companies including Intel, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Yahoo! and Hewlett-Packard have established major operations near or on the Technion campus, where they can take advantage of  the world-class research and students and faculty members of the Technion.

The Technion graduates currently head nearly half of the 121 Israeli companies on the NASDAQ, which have a combined market value of over $28 billion. More than 70 percent of the Technion graduates are employed in the high technology sectors that drive Israel’s economic growth. Presently, Israeli companies headed by the Technion graduates employ 85 percent of Israel’s technical workforce. According to a recent article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, there are approximately 4,000 start-up companies located around the Technion’s home campus.

With the selection of Cornell/Technion now complete, the project is scheduled to move into the environmental and land use review process, expected to be completed by the fall of 2013. Groundbreaking on the first phase of the Roosevelt Island campus is expected by the beginning of 2015. A temporary off-site campus will be open in 2012.

Gov’t, Orbimed Launch Biomed Fund

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

As reported in Globes.co.ilOrbimed is the largest healthcare investment firm in the world.

OrbiMed Advisors LLC, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor have signed an agreement to set up a $203 million biotech fund. Orbimed General Partner Jonathan Silverstein told “Globes” in an exclusive interview that the amount could very well increase.Orbimed launched the fund today. The fund will invest in life sciences companies, with an emphasis on biopharmaceuticals, which the government has identified as a field in which Israel has an excellent but not fully tapped infrastructure.

Orbimed met the biomedical fund tender’s high threshold conditions as well as the requirement to raise at least $76 million. The company succeeded in raising $160 million, more than double the minimum – no small achievement given the current difficulty in raising capital. The amount raised maximizes the government’s investment.

The government will invest $40 million in Orbimed’s Israel unit. Orbimed is the largest life sciences investment fund in the world.The biomed fund in Israel will be one of the largest venture capital funds in the country. Orbimed’s entry into Israel is expected to boost foreign investment in Israel’s life sciences industry by $200 million through co-investments with foreign venture capital funds.

Silverstein said that the major investors in Orbimed include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq: TEVA; TASE: TEVA), which invested $25 million; two large US biotech companies; a large US bank; two Israeli insurance companies; and several investment funds from America, Europe, and Asia. 30% are return investors, and the rest are new investors.

Orbimed set up an Israeli office in April 2010 with three partners: Dr. Nissim Darvish, Erez Chimovits, and Anat Naschitz. Orbimed Israel will fully cooperate with Orbimed Advisors, which will enable portfolio companies to benefit from Orbimed’s extensive experience and operations in the US, China, and India.

Darvish said, “The fund will invest in the wide range of fields in the life sciences, including medical devices, biotech, and diagnostics. It will invest in every stage of companies’ development from the seed stage forward.”

Orbimed Advisors general partner Jonathan Silverstein said, “The decision to operate in Israel is based on recognition of Israel’s great potential in the life sciences in the coming years. In the past two years, we’ve seen rapid growth in this field in Israel, and a large increase in the number of companies at different stages of clinical trials. Orbimed examined the plans of other governments and decided that the combination of the Israeli government’s plans with the potential of Israel’s industry was best.”

Israeli start-ups invited to bid for €32b EU fund

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

As reported in IVC: EU Seventh Framework Progamme for R&D grants are considered the cheapest money available for technology companies.

At a time when it is hard for new technology companies to raise capital, they ought to remember one deep pocket that has money for Israeli companies: EU grant programs for technology R&D companies.

The EU Seventh Framework Progamme for Research and Development has invited Israeli companies to submit grant applications. These grants are considered the cheapest money available for technology companies. Companies that successfully pass the bureaucratic hurdles and meet the criteria can gain access to millions of euros, which are offered without strings attached. The venture even keeps the intellectual property.

Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) venture partner Yoav Tzruya is a member of the EU Seventh Framework Progamme for R&D forum, which decides its high-tech investments. The forum reviews the grant applications, sifts them, and picks the projects that will receive financing.

Tzruya says, “The EU program has €32 billion for 2007-13. EU member states participate in the funding, along with other countries, such as Israel. The budget is divided into “calls”, which are programs in various fields published every few months.”

Tzruya says €780 million is targeted for various technology companies. “For example, the last call was to companies developing technologies for social networks, personalization, 3D, and virtualization, with an emphasis on leveraging the technologies for socially weak populations, such as the elderly, handicapped, or immigrants.”

Tzruya adds that another program which might suit Israeli companies is open for calls through the end of April.

“Globes”: What is the topic of the next call?

Tzruya: “Digital content and languages, digital content storage, access to video, audio, and text content, and automatic translation. The call could suit small companies, and is intended for partnerships by two companies. Research proposals can be submitted for up to €2 million. Since the program is designed for small companies, it is also fairly simple. Five-page research applications are enough, and the criteria are more flexible.”

IBM Haifa to assist Lithuania gov’t R&D center

Friday, October 1st, 2010

As reported in IVC: Collaboration will combine Haifa’s know-how in advanced diagnostics and Lithuanian experience in clinical methodology.

IBM’s R&D centers in Israel, Switzerland and the US will help the Lithuanian government set up an R&D center. The joint research partnership between IBM and the Lithuanian government will focus on healthcare, nanotechnology and IP management.
According to the collaborative agreement signed between IBM and the Lithuanian government, the Baltic state’s leading universities and hospitals will cooperate with the company’s R&D centers in Haifa, Zurich, New York and San Jose.

In particular, researchers from Haifa’s lab will partner with Lithuanian scientists on a variety of healthcare projects that will aim to provide a better understanding of how to diagnose, and treat life-threatening diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and blood disorders. The research collaborations will take advantage of Haifa’s know-how in advanced diagnostics and Lithuanian experience in clinical methodology for improving treatment of patients and checking effectiveness in the field.

Akin to a Nobel Win

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

As reported in Israel 21C: Prof. Elon Lindenstrauss of the Einstein Institute of Mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has become the first Israeli to receive the Fields Medal. Regarded as the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in mathematics, the award was bestowed on Lindenstrauss and three others by Indian President Shrimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil at the quadrennial International Mathematical Union in Hyderabad on August 19.

Speaking to ISRAEL21c from India the following day, the tired but elated mathematician says he still has much to accomplish professionally, when he and his wife and three young daughters return from the festivities.

“I’m working all the time. There is a lot more to do,” he says.

Solutions to complex problems

What catapulted Lindenstrauss into the international spotlight are his advances in ergodic theory, the statistical and qualitative behavior of measurable actions on measurable spaces. His work has led to solutions to some of the most complex problems in number theory, which deals with the properties of numbers.

For the past 10 years he has been making strides in understanding the Littlewood Conjecture, a well-known ‘open problem’ first posed around 1930 by British mathematician John Edensor Littlewood. “I am making progress, but I still don’t know how to show definitively that these things are true,” says the Israeli professor. He explains that while his findings often have practical applications, some are “just pure mathematics. You never know which part of mathematics will be useful.”

The Fields Prize, established by University of Toronto mathematician John C. Fields in 1932, is awarded every four years in conjunction with the International Congress of Mathematicians’ International Mathematical Union. With a cash prize of 15,000 Canadian dollars ($14,460 or 54,760 shekels), it recognizes significant achievements as well as promising potential in mathematicians up to the age of 40.

Lindenstrauss, who just celebrated his 40th birthday, is a Jerusalem native and graduate of the Talpiot program for outstanding students in the Israel Air Force. He began winning awards even before finishing his education – including the Nessyahu and Kennedy-Lee prizes for his Ph.D. thesis in mathematics – and has gone on to garner additional honors from professional associations in Europe and Israel, including the Israel Defense Prize.

An “Israeli cultural hero”

Calling Lindenstrauss an “Israeli cultural hero,” Hebrew University President Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson pointed out that the Fields age limit presents a particularly difficult challenge for Israelis, because they are not free to begin their academic careers until after they have fulfilled their military obligations. Lindenstrauss, who has published 35 papers since 1995, started even later than usual, because he volunteered for extra service.

Although no Israeli has won the medal before, Israeli mathematicians figure prominently in the Intentional Mathematical Union, whose membership is determined on the basis of the quality and quantity of research by individuals. “Israel is one of the 10 largest and leading state delegations represented in the organization,” says Einstein Institute Prof. Alex Lubotzky in a statement released just after the prizewinners were announced.

Lindenstrauss says that his father, Einstein Institute professor emeritus and Israel Prize laureate Joram Lindenstrauss, was “extremely happy” to hear the good news. Family is the primary reason Lindenstrauss cites for his decision to pursue his career at the Hebrew University rather than in the United States, where he has worked at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, N.J., Stanford University in California, and the Courant Institute at New York University. He recently completed a five-year professorship at Princeton University.

“What made it easier is that there is a wonderful mathematical community in Israel, so I didn’t have to make any significant professional sacrifice to be here,” he says.

Several other members of the university’s Einstein Institute of Mathematics have received international renown since its founding in 1925. Among the most well-known is Prof. Robert J. Aumann, a game theorist who won the Nobel Prize for economics in 2005. Aumann is one of nine Israelis who have won Nobels; the most recent was Weizmann Institute chemist Ada E. Yonath in 2009.

Israeli Engineering College to Lead European Innovation Project

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

TEMPUS, a European Union program aimed at supporting higher education in neighboring countries, awarded Israel’s Sami Shamoon Academic College of Engineering (SCE) a 1 million Euro grant to teach innovation.

 SCE will lead a group of 18 institutions and companies from both within and outside Israel, including Apple’s Israeli representative E-Digital, SIT, and the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel’s first private college.

 Established in 1990, TEMPUS covers 27 countries in the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East.

Israel Offers Incentives to Launch Financial R&D Centers

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

In order to encourage large financial services companies and international banks to set up financial R&D centers in Israel, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor have established a special incentives program.

The government will provide 40% of the plan’s total budget approved by the Office of the Chief Scientist in the first and second years, 30% in the third and fourth years, and 25% in the fifth year. Projects set up in Israel’sNorth and South will be eligible for higher government funding of 50% in the first and second years, 40% in the third and fourth years, and 35% in the fifth year.

The plan is part of the Relative Advantages Plan that will be managed by the Chief Scientist Office and aims to boost the development of an information-intensive financial services industry in Israel.

“This plan is designed to meet the world’s need for sophisticated analytical solutions that support the financial industry. Israel has quality manpower with advanced technological infrastructures and good quality higher education,” Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor director general Sharon Kedmi said.

To qualify, participating international financial companies have to commit to working in Israel for five years and employ at least 25 R&D employees in the first year, 50 employees in the second year, and 80 employees in the third and subsequent years. The companies also need to ensure that at least 90% of the employees at the financial R&D centers to be set up will be Israeli citizens.

Israel Celebrates Groundbreaking Innovation in new IPC Brochure

Monday, September 6th, 2010

International investors and innovation aficionados are invited to rejoice with the launching of a new publication celebrating Israel’s innovative success including a compilation of some of Israel’s most revolutionary technological breakthroughs across several industries, including in Cleantech, Agrotech, Life Sciences, IT, Communications, and Homeland Security.

The new brochure, “Israel – Global Center for Breakthrough Innovation,” produced by Israel’s Investment Promotion Center of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, bolsters Israel’s position as an innovative powerhouse and a preferred target for foreign direct investment. Israel’s innovative professionals are a central focus of the brochure, which emphasizes the country’s human capital as the vital component that binds together all the key elements of its success.

The new brochure can be viewed through the Invest in Israel website, by clicking here.

Amdocs and AT&T Launch Israeli Innovation Center

Monday, August 30th, 2010

In a joint initiative, Amdocs, which develops billing and customer management relations solutions for telecommunications providers, and US telecommunications giant AT&T are setting up the Amdocs Innovations Center, which will enable Israeli companies to develop products and solutions with Amdocs for AT&T.

The innovations center aims to foster collaboration with telephone, mobile phone and smartphone manufacturers, applications developers, and network equipment makers to expedite the development of next-generation broadband applications for wireline and mobile devices.

As part of AT&T’s “Rethink the Possible” program, the company has set up two centers, two in the US and one in Israel, with strategic partners: Ericsson AB, Alcatel Lucent SA, and Amdocs. Full operations are slated to begin before the end of 2010.


Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

The Scientist magazine ranked the Weizmann Institute of Science as the second best scientific institution outside the US for which to work in its “Top 10 International Academic Institutions for 2010”, for the second consecutive year. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem was ranked fifth. Altogether, the Weizmann Institute has been ranked second three times, and in first place twice.

The Weizmann Institute, which is home to 2,600 scientists, students, technicians, and supporting staff, has 100 full-time life science researchers, a government budget of $4 million, and 11,873 published papers in the life sciences, with an average of 15.29 citations per paper.