Tel Aviv University to partner in new Chicago innovation, entrepreneurship hub

Center will focus on cybersecurity, AI, big data, food security, among other fields of innovation

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

Illustrative: Early commuters drive as the sun rises over the Chicago skyline Friday, June 30, 2017. (AP Photo/G-Jun Yam)
Illustrative: Early commuters drive as the sun rises over the Chicago skyline Friday, June 30, 2017. (AP Photo/G-Jun Yam)

Tel Aviv University has been chosen to become one of four founding partners of a new innovation and entrepreneurship hub to be set up in Chicago.

The university will join three other institutions – University of Illinois, University of Chicago and Northwestern University — in the venture, which will be backed by $500 million from the State of Illinois and has the support of the City of Chicago.

The funding will go toward the building of the innovation and entrepreneurship hub, to be called the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), and to create a network of interconnected hubs across Illinois, Tel Aviv University said in a statement.

The new center will focus on research and education in the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation, emphasizing areas like cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, big data and food security.

TAU will operate labs, classrooms and offices at the center, for the benefit of undergraduates, graduate students and faculty who will go to the DPI for studies and research. The center will promote entrepreneurship though helping set up new companies, connecting startups with venture capital funding, and linking new companies with established firms in their market sectors.

A first group of TAU students from its school of management has already stayed at the center (currently operating in an existing building), and activities are expected to expand as the new facilities are constructed, the statement said.

“The fact that TAU was invited to join this important initiative as an equal founding partner verifies its firm status and central place in the international arena of entrepreneurship and innovation,” said TAU President Prof. Joseph Klafter in a statement. “This is a manifestation of TAU’s success in educating generations of successful entrepreneurs, as well as its excellent achievements in research.”

“Tel Aviv University is a global powerhouse of world-class education, entrepreneurship and company creation, a cornerstone of Israel’s standing as a global leader in developing the start-up companies that drive progress and economic growth,” said Tim Killeen, president of the University of Illinois System. “That is the same forward-focused, leading-edge culture that we are working to expand in Illinois.”

A new building to house the center is expected to open in 2021, the statement said.

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