Can a cybersecurity center bloom in Israel’s Negev?
Dec. 21, 2014
On the far east edge of sprawling Beersheva, a determined weed of a city within Israel’s southern desert expanse, a new school of Zionists — defense techies — are building a live-work hub with an increasingly relevant focus: cybersecurity.
“Ten years ago, if you were to convince an Israeli, ‘Let’s put money on Beersheva; let’s put the best cybersecurity center in the world in the middle of the desert,’ everybody would think you were a lunatic,” Nimrod Kozlovski, founder of Tel Aviv University’s cybersecurity graduate program and former captain of the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) electronic warfare unit, said during a November tour of the construction site. Although only one of 10 high-rises slated for the industrial park has been completed so far, Kozlovski and his cybersecurity startup incubator, JVP Cyber Labs, already have made a home in their ground-floor offices.
Nimrod Kozlovski, one of Israel’s most trusted cybersecurity experts, now runs a cybersecurity startup incubator called JVP Cyber Labs within the CyberSpark ecosystem. Photo by Simone Wilson
CyberSpark — as the park’s host of co-founders have named it — sits on a skewed triangular plot measuring about 20 acres. Its final form will be a jigsaw of sleek gray buildings filled with cybersecurity research and development (R&D) centers for hundreds of multinational companies, surrounded by some desert shrubbery and extras like a swanky conference center and a restaurant row. Perhaps most desirable, though, is its rare proximity — a few hundred feet up a grassy hill — to an IDF megabase that will, according to plan, combine all the army’s tech-related units from the Tel Aviv area into one well-oiled desert compound beginning next year. Each graduating class of cybersoldiers will double as a cornucopia of new hires for the companies next door.
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