Desert technology community launched in Beersheva

Technological greenhouse, Ramat Hanegev / Photo: Ramat HaNegev Regional Council
Technological greenhouse, Ramat Hanegev / Photo: Ramat HaNegev Regional Council

DeserTech, formed by the Merage Foundation and the Israel Innovation Institute, already eyes regional cooperation.

The Israeli Innovation Institute and the David and Laura Merage Foundation have announced the launch of a desert technology community called DeserTech.

DeserTech's mission is to promote technologies that will help "in dealing with the challenges of the desert and enlightened use of its resources for the benefit of humanity."

According to the announcement, the community, to be located in Beersheva, will operate as part of a climate change innovation center located in the Beersheva innovation district, initiated by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in collaboration with Ben Gurion University, the Municipality of Beersheva and Soroka Medical Center.

One of the goals of the community is to transform the Negev region, and the city of Beersheva in particular, into an entrepreneurial and technological hub for innovations that enable sustainable living in arid climates. DeserTech's vision is to develop technologies in the region that will address the global desertification challenge, and make Beersheva and the Negev a national and global center for these technologies.

The community is expected to work with a number of entities relevant to the field and its location, including the Ministry for Environmental Protection, the Beersheva Municipality, Ben-Gurion University, Soroka Hospital, the Jewish National Fund - Keren Kayeme L’Israel, the National Economic Council, and Start-up Nation Central (SNC).

Nicole Hod Stroh, executive director of the Merage Foundation Israel, said: "We believe that this field will be one of the economic growth engines in the Negev."

Israel Institute of Innovation VP Doron Meller: "The community's goal is to create a global ecosystem centered in the Negev that will connect with entrepreneurs, investors, multinational companies, environmental organizations, academic researchers, and applied industries. We’re already helping to start building a bridge to the Gulf states, which are very interested in this field."

Minister of Environmental Protection Gila Gamliel said, "In the peace agreement we signed with the United Arab Emirates, we agreed to cooperate in developing pioneering solutions to climate challenges in a desert environment. This partnership can be expressed, among other things, through the establishment of a joint research support fund of the two governments, or a jointly-held venture capital fund to support start-up companies.

"This innovation community provides an opportunity to promote and develop innovative Israeli solutions to challenges of this sort. The two countries have similar climatic conditions, and it’s only fitting that we should cooperate in the area of environmental protection."

The Merage Foundation has been operating in the Negev for over 15 years and has so far invested over NIS 200 million in in various regional projects. The foundation, which began operations in 1999, is a philanthropic body founded by David Merage, an American Jew of Iranian descent living in the United States. The Merage Foundation’s overarching goal for the Negev is to "accelerate regional economic prosperity by strengthening key economic clusters in which the Negev has an advantage."

Since its founding, according to the Foundation, it has invested about NIS 200 million in various Negev-centric projects. The Foundation says that, in the coming years, and already in the coming year, it plans to invest an additional NIS 10 million in a variety of national programs, particularly in the new DeserTech community.

The Israel Innovation Institute is a non-profit organization founded in 2011 by Dr. Leonid Bakman and Boaz Mamo with the goal of accelerating Israeli innovation as a way and means of tackling global challenges. The institute's CEO is Jonathan Menuhin, who runs and manages innovation communities as joint ventures with the Israeli government in the following areas: smart transportation (EcoMotion), digital health (HealthIL), and advanced agriculture (GrowingIL). In addition, the Institute has established an independent community that engages in innovation management processes in organizations and in developing the professional concept of enterprise innovation managers (CatalystIL). These are now joined by the new Desert Community (DeserTech).

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on October 13, 2020

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

Technological greenhouse, Ramat Hanegev / Photo: Ramat HaNegev Regional Council
Technological greenhouse, Ramat Hanegev / Photo: Ramat HaNegev Regional Council
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