Israel’s Technion gets $2.7 million grant to set up entrepreneurship hub

The t-hub will become a focal point for all entrepreneurial activities of the various Technion faculties, encouraging entrepreneurial thinking

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Technion Israel Institute of Technology campus in Haifa (Courtesy)
Technion Israel Institute of Technology campus in Haifa (Courtesy)

The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology has won a NIS 10 million ($2.7 million) government grant to boost its entrepreneurship programs and set up a new entrepreneurship and innovation center, called the t-hub.

The t-hub will become a focal point for all entrepreneurial activities of the various Technion faculties, the university said in a statement. It will encourage entrepreneurial thinking through teaching, research, and practical experience for students and faculty members, and aims to transform the Technion into a center for scientific-technological initiatives that will serve both the university and its surrounding environment.

The grant has been awarded as part of the “New Campus Vision” competition set up by Council for Higher Education, which is part of the Education Ministry.

The Technion has been working on a strategic plan for entrepreneurship and innovation over the past two years.

Students attend a lecture at the Technion University, located in Haifa, Israel. (Credit: courtesy)

“Two years ago we initiated a comprehensive initiative aimed at developing and promoting entrepreneurship and innovation activities on the Haifa campus connecting them to the new branches of Technion in New York and China,” said Prof. Peretz Lavie, the president of the university. “The grant will enable the Technion to make a significant change in the scope of its entrepreneurial activities and to realize the establishment of the Technion Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, t-hub, which will take the entrepreneurial culture on campus to new heights.”

Since its establishment, the Technion “has championed the integration of basic science and applied research,” seeking to advance scientific knowledge while also making sure this knowledge is used to develop products “for the benefit of humanity,” the statement said.

In Israel, which boasts the greatest number of startups per capita in the world, entrepreneurship courses have been sprouting at universities and colleges throughout the country to meet a grassroots demand. These programs aim to arm students with much needed theory along with a toolbox of mentorships, networking and tips on how best to approach investors for funding.

The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya has set up its Adelson School of Entrepreneurship (ASE), to become a hub for all of the private college’s entrepreneurial activities, both academic and extracurricular. The Bengis Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Ben-Gurion University offers an MBA in management with a special track in entrepreneurship, high-tech management and innovation, which teaches students to set up and advance a project, how to stay competitive, and how to promote innovation. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem wants to make entrepreneurship part of the staple diet of all students, including historians, engineers and philosophers.

The Technion’s first entrepreneurship course was founded 30 years ago on campus, initiated by Prof. Dan Shechtman, a Nobel laureate in chemistry.

More than 1,600 companies set up

Since 1995, Technion alumni have established more than 1,600 companies that have generated more than $30 billion and created nearly 100,000 jobs, the statement said, making them an integral part of Startup Nation. The university was recently ranked 39th in the world in the number of patents registered in the United States in 2017.

Mazor Robotics Ltd., which started out in the robotics lab of Prof. Moshe Shoham of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at Technion, was recently sold to Irish-American medical device firm Medtronic for $1.64 billion.

“Technion goals in entrepreneurship and innovation are to develop and promote technological and scientific excellence among its students, teachers and researchers while providing tools for creative and entrepreneurial thinking,” said Prof. Adam Shwartz, Technion senior executive vice president and chair of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center.

“These tools are designed to solve engineering, technological and scientific challenges over the course of a professional career – whether in start-up companies, in industrial, civilian, or security companies, in companies that benefit the public or in academia. Technion will integrate such thinking and activity in all its components and will establish the Entrepreneurship Center to concentrate, promote, and empower the entrepreneurial culture throughout the campus,” he said in the statement.

The Center will be headed by Prof. Eyal Zussman, the Center’s academic director and Dr. Dana Sheffer.

The Technion’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center has industry partners, including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.; Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., and Alpha Omega, the largest Arab-Israeli high-tech firm.

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