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Israel Invests in Student Entrepreneurship

Israel Invests in Student Entrepreneurship

January 9, 2019

Negev Development & Community Programs, Press Releases

The Council of Higher Education has awarded a NIS 6 million ($1,634,100) grant to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev for the establishment of Yazamut 360°, an interdisciplinary center for entrepreneurship that will host activities to encourage students, faculty members and researchers to develop and hone their entrepreneurial skills.

Prof. Carmel Sofer

The center will be chaired by Prof. Carmel Sofer of BGU’s Departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Industrial Engineering and Management, who was a high-tech investor for 25 years, and led by Dana Gavish-Fridman, vice president for entrepreneurship at BGN Technologies, the BGU technology-transfer company.

“This grant is a gratifying vote of confidence in BGU’s future and our ability to guide energetic, intelligent students, faculty members and residents of the Negev region as they turn their ideas into solid businesses,” says BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz.

The new hub, which will be located at the center of the Marcus Family Campus, is part of BGU’s long-term plan to enhance the University’s innovation ecosystem.

“The establishment of this center as an empowering meeting place will provide students and researchers alike with a wide variety of tools and skills to connect with the business community,” says Prof. Sofer.

The center will become a work space for the University’s 20,000 students, researchers and 130,000 graduates. It will run courses, hackathons and initiatives that connect the developers to the nation’s startup ecosystem, while also fostering the cross-fertilization of ideas by boosting cooperation between members of different faculties, such as management, engineering and medicine.

“Entrepreneurship and creativity, together with community outreach and a commitment to participate in the social, business and economic life of the Negev region, has been a critical part of BGU’s raison d’être since the University was founded,” says Prof. Chamovitz.

Yazamut 360° will also act as a facilitator of various new initiatives such as Cactus Capital, the University’s student-run venture capital investment fund. Students will be able to pitch their technologies to the fund and get investments ranging from $5,000 for ideas to $20,000 for more developed startups. BGU is providing $1 million to this fund to help student entrepreneurs get their startups off the ground and provide those students who are running the fund with valuable experience as they mull a variety of investments.

“We need to change the way we educate our students,” Gavish-Fridman says. “Employers today wish to see a lot of experience, not just academic achievements. We need to connect our students to the commercial world, and make sure they get that exposure.”

Yazamut 360° will also support Forum 80-20, a voluntary organization led by student entrepreneurs from BGU’s Department of Industrial Engineering and Management.

Together with BGN Technologies, Yazamut 360° will enhance business relationships and further strengthen the BGU-private sector innovation ecosystem.

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertise locally and around the globe. As Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) looks ahead to turning 50 in 2020, AABGU imagines a future that goes beyond the walls of academia. It is a future where BGU invents a new world and inspires a vision for a stronger Israel and its next generation of leaders. Together with supporters, AABGU will help the University foster excellence in teaching, research and outreach to the communities of the Negev for the next 50 years and beyond. Visit vision.aabgu.org to learn more.

Media Contact:
Andrew Lavin
A. Lavin Communications
516-944-4486
alc@alavin.com