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MIT Partners with Ben-Gurion University, Expanding Israel Tech Ties

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced a partnership with Ben-Gurion University on Tuesday.

MIT, one of America’s leading universities, already has a number of programs with other Israeli institutions including a partnership with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem [1] and Tel Aviv University’s MIT Enterprise Forum Israel [2]. The MIT Enterprise Forum Israel is one of 28 such collaborations the university has, and the first that was established outside of North America [3].

The Times of Israel reported [4] on the new agreement:

Under the deal, students from both institutions are to work together to develop ideas based on research done at both schools. Ideas will be submitted to a panel for review, and those found worthy of further development will receive seed money from the fund.

The program is administered by MIT’s International Science and Technology Initiative (MISTI), which arranges for MIT students to spend time at institutions around the world. MISTI works with all Israeli universities and runs joint research and education programs for MIT students in Israel. The group operates an internship program for MIT students in Israel, who work in companies such as Teva, IBM and Intel, said David Dolev, managing director of MISTI MIT-Israel and assistant director of MISTI worldwide.

The announcement was made during a trade mission to Israel from Massachusetts led by Governor Deval Patrick. The Times of Israel adds:

According to a report by the New England-Israel Business Council (NEIBC), Massachusetts was Israel’s 12th largest import partner in the United States last year, with Israel importing $212 million in goods and services. In 2012, the organization said, 211 Israeli-founded businesses that set up shop in Massachusetts, most of which are start-ups, accounted for 2.9 percent of the state’s GDP. Some 6,700 people, the vast majority of them Massachusetts residents, worked for these companies, with an additional 17,000 people employed in businesses supporting these companies, such as technical support, janitorial services and banking. Thanks to this “multiplier effect,” the $6.2 billion of business that these Israeli companies did in 2012 had an overall economic impact of nearly $12 billion, the group said.

The Associated Press captured the governor’s enthusiasm [5] for the trade relationship:

With nearly all of these companies involved in technology sectors, Israel and Massachusetts are “very compatible,” Patrick said in an interview Tuesday.

“It’s a very, very fruitful – and tangibly so – relationship,” he said. “The way to keep it going is to keep cultivating it.”

Israeli universities have been a popular choice [6] to partner with American universities. In February of this year, Herzliya’s Interdisciplinary Center became the first Middle Eastern university to partner [7] with Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson Center. Ben Gurion University has lately been in the news as being the focal point of a new cutting-edge cybersecurity center in the Negev [8].

Israel has partnered with numerous states; recently Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed an agreement with California Governor Jerry Brown [9] to increase cooperation between the two governments.

[Photo: b k / Flickr [10] ]