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University Presidents Travel to Israel on Academic Exchange, Innovation Tour

A group of top U.S. university presidents are in Israel this week to study Israeli innovation and explore opportunities for bilateral academic exchanges. Among the topics for discussion are the degree to which Israeli has developed two-way channels for the exchange of information between academic institutions and industrial settings. A release from Project Interchange, which organized the visit, explains that the fields being examined are wide-ranging:

The delegation will visit Israeli universities, including Tel Aviv University, the Technion, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for a series of meetings in areas relevant to their universities such as brain science, environmental sustainability, biotech, diversity and women’s leadership. The delegation will learn about state-of-the art research initiatives and ground-breaking innovation at Israeli universities, as well as unique academia-to-industry technology transfer that has contributed to Israel’s reputation as the “Start Up Nation”.

A previous Project Interchange program brought Colorado State Sen. Mark Scheffel to Israel. Scheffel subsequently worked to facilitate a bill encouraging Colorado investment in Israel. CO governor John Hickenlooper, who signed the bill into law, has also emphasized Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship:

We had a wonderful meeting with the Mayor of Jerusalem who’s a very powerful person in Israel and saw his plans for innovation and entrepreneurs. We met tons of entrepreneurs of all different stripes. It’s got to be the most entrepreneurial driven… It’s like a gigantic version of Boulder, right? Just entrepreneurs everywhere… I think some of the things that they’re really good at — software development, geospatial technology, aerospace and defense. We want to try to connect some of those dots. There’s also how do you approach agriculture and water conservation in a semi-arid climate. They’re world leaders in that.

Two months ago billionaire investor Warren Buffett declared that Israel is the “most promising investment hub” outside of the United States, while a recent Asia-focused innovation summit highlighted how unique solutions incubated in Israel could be brought to bear on problems ranging from communications infrastructure to demographic instability. An Indian official at the summit described Israel as “as good a place to do business as any place in the world.”

The program will reinforce evaluations, voiced by among others National Post Managing Editor for Comment Jonathan Kay, to the effect that the activists committed to securing economic boycotts of Israel have “accomplished less than nothing.”

A couple Project Interchange videos:

[Photo: ProjectInterchange / Youtube]