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MISTI creates its first seed fund in Israel

MIT and Ben Gurion University partner on seed fund to support budding collaborations between the institutions
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(Left to right) Joseph Kost, Zvi Hacohen, and Christine Ortiz signed the first MIT-Israel/BGU Seed Fund on Sunday.
(Left to right) Joseph Kost, Zvi Hacohen, and Christine Ortiz signed the first MIT-Israel/BGU Seed Fund on Sunday.
Photo: Dani Machlis/BGU

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) signed an agreement with MIT on Sunday to create a seed fund to promote and support early-stage collaborations between MIT researchers and their BGU counterparts.

This marks the first seed fund that MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI), which administers the program, has launched in Israel.

“We at BGU are excited and looking forward to tightening our collaboration with MIT faculty and students," said Joseph Kost, dean of BGU's Faculty of Engineering Sciences.

“The agreement we signed today will enable MIT and BGU to move forward in key areas of research important to both institutions,” said Christine Ortiz, MISTI-Israel's faculty director and MIT's dean for graduate education.

“In order to strengthen the collaboration between MIT and BGU, we launched an MIT-Israel/BGU Seed Fund to support budding collaborations between faculty and research scientists at MIT and their counterparts at BGU. We see this as another step in creating widespread, lasting relationships between the scientific communities at MIT and BGU and hope to launch other MIT-Israel Seed Funds in specific areas of interest and with other Israeli academic institutions,” said David Dolev, managing director of MISTI-Israel and assistant director of MISTI.

“From its inception in 2007," he continued, "the MISTI MIT-Israel program has striven to effectively recruit, select, and place outstanding students in unique internship opportunities in Israel. Students do internships in companies, startups and research labs at universities. 2013-2014 marked significant strides in the program’s growth and development. This past year the number of students participating grew to 77, the largest cohort the program has sent overseas, for a total of over 300 students since the pilot year of 2005. During these years, 40 MIT students did internships at BGU. These outstanding MIT students hail from all over the United States, as well as dozens of other countries around the world. Participants were drawn from 21 academic departments and a broad range of academic levels ranging from freshmen to PhD candidates."

Ortiz and Dolev — along with MIT's John Lienhard, a professor of mechanical engineering, and Nicholas Negroponte of the MIT Media Lab — are in Israel this week as part of Governor Deval Patrick’s Trade Mission to Israel.

MIT was represented at the signing by Ortiz; BGU was represented by Kost and Rector Zvi Hacohen.

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