Uzia Galil, one of the founding fathers of Israel's technology industry, died last night. He was 96.
Galil was born in Bucharest in 1925. He immigrated to Israel (then Palestine) at the age of 16, after his education in Romania was ended by the introduction of race laws against Jews. After reaching Israel, he completed his studies in electrical engineering at the Technion in 1947. When the State of Israel was declared he was drafted into the Israel Navy and served in it until 1957. He later headed the electronics department in the Physics Faculty at the Technion.
At the beginning of the 1960s, Galil founded Elron as a tiny laboratory in his home on the Carmel. It began by assembling an electronic device for measuring radiation. Elron is described as the first Hebrew startup. In 1962, he received investment of $160,000 for it from the Rockefeller and Recanati families. In 1972, Elron became the first technology company to be floated on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Dozens of companies that were trailblazers for Israel's technology sector grew out of Elron, such as Elbit, Elscint, Orbotech, and Given Imaging.
Galil ran Elron for 38 years, and was president of Elbit for its first twelve years. He was also the visionary behind the Matam technology park in Haifa, designed to take advantage of proximity to the Technion. The park was constructed in 1968 by Elron and the Haifa municipality.
In 1999, Galil stepped down from his posts at Elron and Elbit, and set up Uzia Initiatives and Management Ltd., in order to cultivate new businesses in mobile communications. Over the years, Galil was awarded many prizes, culminating in the Israel Prize in 1997, and honorary doctorates from the Technion, the Weizmann Institute of Science, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and Polytechnic Institute of New York.
In 2018, at age 93, Galil gave an interview to an edition of "Globes'" weekend magazine "G" that was devoted to the people who built Israel. "All my efforts today are devoted to the way in which scientific and technological advances can be exploited for the benefit of the country and of the public," Galil said then. "I tell everyone, stop dealing with the past, our future depends on educating the young for innovation, and thereby preserving the Israeli economy's advantage. I'm not looking for articles to mention me. There are very many things to do and change in order for development to help the future."
In a previous interview with "Globes', Galil said, " I never sold an Elron share in my life, and there were periods when it was at $50. They call that a sentimental stock. Fortunately, I have another sentimental stock, Elbit Systems."
A statement from Elron said, "Uzia Galil was the founding father of Israel's technology industry. At the beginning of the 1960s, when the Israel brand meant oranges and orchards, he founded Elron with a vision of building a knowledge-based industry. At that time it was a vision, a dream, imagination, and today it's a reality. Elbit, Elscint, Orbotech, Zoran, Netvision, Given Imaging, are just some of the dozens of companies that grew up in Elron, the fruit of Uzia's vision.
"He was always ahead of his time with his vision, at the beginning with the electronics industry and later with the information technology industry and information-based medicine, and until his last day he was involved with young entrepreneurs and new companies - a people's person, connected to the young, and all this with a modesty and a human quality the likes of which are not often found today. Uzia belongs to the generation of giants, the modern pioneer and the new Zionist who put the country onto the technology and information highway. This is a sad day for the State of Israel and especially for Elron. May his memory be blessed."
Two months ago, the Haifa municipality held a ceremony in honor of Galil at the retirement home in which he lived in the city, and named an industrial park in the city after him, in recognition of his contribution to Haifa over many years. Haifa mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem said today, "Uzia Galil has left us, but his work and his legacy will live on and grow in the knowledge-based industry buildings and the research institutions in the park that will bear his name forever."
A statement from Elbit Systems said, "The board of directors of Elbit Systems, headed by Michael Federmann, and the management headed by Bezhalel Machlis, are saddened by the death of Uzia Galil, founder of defense technology company Elbit Ltd. Uzia Galil, chairman of the board of Elbit Ltd. from 1981 to 1999, was one of the pioneers of Israel's technology and defense industries. Uzia Galil represents a supreme example of leadership and ground-breaking technological innovation. We shall remember his legacy and preserve it forever."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 10, 2021
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