Beersheva: Israel’s emerging high-tech hubDec. 13, 2015
Beersheva has seen its share of cornerstone ceremonies over the last two decades, but it is still tough to fathom that its miraculous growth materialized and yet the first of 23 buildings planned for the city’s high-tech park were inaugurated only two and a half years ago.
Meanwhile, two buildings are operational and located close to the railway station at Ben-Gurion University, which led the effort to construct the Gav-Yam Advanced Technologies Park over the years together with the Beersheva Municipality.
Far away from the crowded startup scene of Tel Aviv, a high-tech hub has been quietly growing in Beersheva.
The new scene is still confined to a relatively small area and has yet to penetrate deep into the heart of the Negev city, but it has attained many of the sources and resources needed for a tech ecosystem to succeed: a developed academic infrastructure, government policies that include benefits, incentives and tax-breaks, the presence of international companies, the intelligence and surveillance branches of the IDF, incubators and accelerators, a motivated local community, coworking spaces, and - last but not least - a conveniently-located railway station.
The scene even marked its first successful exit at the beginning of the year, when a two-year-old startup became the global cyber center for payment giant PayPal. However, outside of Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), the new hub is still lacking in financial institutions and bodies that can support and accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship in the city.
“Globes” took a look at the six central foundations of the budding high-tech hub in Beersheva. One of them was the academic component: Ben-Gurion University
The Beersheva high-tech park was launched two years ago, but the vision at its core was laid down more than 15 years ago by the heads of Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, which is one of the partners in the venture, alongside the Beersheva municipality, the property developer Gav-Yam, and Japanese-American company KUD.
“This situation allows the university to be involved in the development process of the park and in the creation and promotion of its ecosystem,” explained Netta Cohen, the CEO of the university’s technology transfer company BGN Technologies.
“We need to look at the long-term vision and account for the human capital that will be here. Within a decade, the hi-tech and intelligence divisions of the military will be in a 5-km radius from the university. Add to that the fact that Beersheva already produces the most engineers in the country with the university and the Sami Shamoon College of Engineering, and you have here human capital of an exceptionally high standard,” said Cohen, “We are talking about 25,000 professionals that will be here in a decade.”
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