Tel Aviv University to partner $500m Illinois innovation initiative

Tel Aviv University  photo: Rafi Kutz

A large center in Chicago and a network of innovation centers throughout the state will emphasize applied research.

Tel Aviv University has announced its partnership in an innovation and entrepreneurship center in Chicago. The venture is being led by the University of Illinois, with the University of Chicago and Northwestern University also among the founders. Other institutions are also likely to join the venture. The state of Illinois has allocated $500 million to build the center in Chicago and deploy a network of innovation centers in the state, in which Tel Aviv University will also take part. The center in Chicago is scheduled to open in 2021; activity has meanwhile begun in an existing building.

Tel Aviv University said that the new center would engage in research and teaching in entrepreneurship and innovation, with an emphasis on topics such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, big data, and nutritional security. The Israeli university will operate laboratories, classrooms, and offices on the site for the use of undergraduate and postgraduate students and university staff, who will use them for studies and research. The forming of new companies, connecting startups with venture capital funds, and creating connections between companies in the same sectors will also be emphasized.

Tel Aviv University VP Prof. Raanan Rein explained, "We want to create synergy between the quality of research by three leading institutions in Illinois and Tel Aviv University. Research cooperation is always fruitful, and this will make it possible to assemble a critical mass of research groups and provide access for various academic groups to laboratories with modern equipment, and to companies in the state. An excellent research university needs global features in order to provide students and academic staff with access to research networks, cooperative efforts, companies, and industries; otherwise, it will not be part of the game."

Rein explained that the mode of activity was still being developed, but that the university wanted its students to go there for seminars, and was also considering possible joint training for doctoral students, academic staff from the university and other universities, joint appointments of academic staff and researchers - some of the job being in Tel Aviv and some in Illinois, and trips by academic staff for study and research.

Reuters, in cooperation with Clarivate Analytics, last month published a list of the 100 most innovative universities in the world for 2018. The list includes two Israeli universities: Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 79th place and Tel Aviv University in 91st place. "The universities are among the only institutions that have survived for a thousand years or more, among other things because they address the dynamic needs of the society to which they belong. Our main mission is both basic research and applied research meeting various needs ranging from medicine to cyber security. We also feel that in order to be more relevant and attract students, we have to deal more in these areas," Rein said.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 24, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

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Tel Aviv University  photo: Rafi Kutz
Tel Aviv University photo: Rafi Kutz
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