Israel's Minister of Education Naftali Bennett today announced that Gil Shwed, cofounder and CEO of cybersecurity company Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP), had won the Israel Price for high tech. "In Israel's 70th year, I introduced a new category for the Israel Prize: high tech," Bennett wrote on his Twitter account. The Ministry of Education announced that special prizes would be awarded for industry, immigrant absorption, agriculture, and settlement.
In his Twitter announcement, Bennett added, "I was delighted to notify Gil that he had won the prize. Gil Shwed is the Startup National pioneer. His story is the story of Israeli high tech. As a graduate of the 8200 IDF intelligence unit who founded Check Point, he blazed the trail and served as an inspiration for me and for Israeli high-tech entrepreneurs. He is doing his share for education in Israel."
The selection committee, which was chaired by Shlomo Dovrat, also included Ran Meidan and Eilon Tirosh. The committee explained its selection by saying, "Gil Shwed, founder and CEO of Check Point, is a pioneering source of inspiration and exemplary in his ability to shape innovative technologies and a success and prosperous multinational to this day in Israel.
"Shwed's contribution to Israel in the development of the high tech industry has been important for nearly 25 years. His company is a leader in information technology and cybersecurity, and has created thousands of jobs, while demonstrating worldwide the excellence of Israel's human capital.
"Shwed engages in significant and extensive public activity to promote leadership and excellence among talented young people, with an emphasis on the socially outlying areas and his contribution in fostering the future generation in Israel. Gil Shwed's influence on Israeli society and global technology is enormous. He has become a figure worthy of imitation in Israel and all over the world."
Shwed, married with four children, lives in Tel Aviv. Born in 1968, he began studying computers at age 12. Two years later, he began working in the field, and when he was in high school already studied computer science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Following his studies, he joined the 8200 IDF intelligence unit, and worked as a software developer at Orobotech (then called Optrotech).
Shwed founded Check Point in 1993 together with Shlomo Kramer and chairperson Marius Nacht. They realized that the Internet era, which was just beginning, would require security solutions. The firewall invented by the company a year later, the first of its kind, was based on Shwed's patent. Check Point today has 4,500 employees, $1.8 billion in annual sales, a $17 billion market cap, and 100,000 customers.
Shwed is on the Tel Aviv University board of trustees and chairs its youth university, and closely supervises its "future scientists and inventors" organization, which encourages excellence in science among young people in Israel. He is also chairperson of the Yeholot Association, which works to increase the number of Israeli students matriculating and to reduce the school dropout rate among disadvantaged students. The association provides practical teaching help.
Shwed has already won various prizes, including the US Academy of Achievement's 2002 Golden Plate Award for his business and technological contribution, the World Economic Forum's 2003 "Global Leader of Tomorrow" award for his public activity and leadership beyond his immediate professional interests, an honorary doctorate in science from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology for Check Point's contribution to high tech and the Israeli economy and for contribution to information technology (2004), and the "Cyber Defender" award in the framework of 2017 National Cyber Security Week.
Shwed won another honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University for "achievements as an entrepreneur, technological pioneer, and a philanthropist, the father of the modern firewall, an indefatigable advocate of the right to education, for his vision in founding and leading Check Point, and his deep faith in the power of education to create equal opportunity, promote excellence, and foster creativity." The prize was also given for his contribution to the university and his activity in the young university, "which is opening the door to higher education for thousands of talented young Israelis."
Shwed said in response, "I was moved to receive the notice that I had been selected to receive the Israel Prize, especially in an area so greatly associated with our country and Israeli society. The prize may have been given to me, but all the Check Point employees in the past 25 years deserve it. Together, we have provided a solution to a global problem and have made the world a safer place.
"Israel is a wonder, and our industry, the high-tech industry, is turning the spirit of innovation here into products that are improving the world and changing the lives of everyone in the world, regardless of where they live. I thank the prize selection committee, the minister of education, and all of those taking part in the work."
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on March 4, 2018
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