Ben-Gurion University on Friday inked a deal with the National Cyber Bureau to develop CyberSpark, the new cyber-security think tank announced at the CyberTech 2014 conference held in Tel Aviv in January.

CyberSpark would be unique in bringing together large multinationals, investors, start-ups, academic research and even a high school, all dedicated to developing cyber-security solutions, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said while announcing the think tank in January. “Beersheba will not only be the cyber capital of Israel, but one of the most important places in the cyber-security field in the world,” Netanyahu added.

Under the $8.5 million deal, the National Cyber Bureau will open a research and development facility at the Beersheba Advanced Technologies Park (ATP), adjacent to BGU’s campus. The IDF will also be participating in the project, with a satellite R&D center at the park and a large R&D facility the army is setting up outside of Beersheba. The latter is on a large base where many of the army’s advanced research programs are planned to be conducted.

“Under the three-year agreement, CyberSpark will advance long-term theoretical research and will become a foundation pillar of technological development in Israel in the field of cyber security,” said Prof. Dan Blumberg, deputy vice president of research and development and head of BGU’s Homeland Security Institute.

In recent years, Israel’s cyber-security industry has grown significantly from a few dozen companies just three years ago. There are some 200 start-ups operating in the field, along with 20 R&D centers of multinational companies, according to data provided by IVC, a venture capital database. Of the new start-ups, 78 have together been able to raise close to $400 million in early-stage funding, IVC said.

“Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is a leading center of innovation in information security, in partnership with industry, security agencies and the government in a variety of tasks to protect Israel’s digital borders. In addition to being at the forefront of cyber security research, the master’s program in cyberspace security, which is the first of its kind in Israel, highlights the university as a dominant factor in training the researchers of tomorrow,” Prof. Rivka Carmi, president of BGU, said,

Click below for a video of Netanyahu talking about CyberSpark: