“This is a day that will change the history of the State of Israel and we are doing it here in Beer-Sheva!” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared at the launch of the Advanced Technologies Park today. Netanyahu was accompanied by Energy and Water, Regional Cooperation and Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom, and Transportation, National Infrastructures and Road Safety Minister Yaakov Katz. MKs Prof. Avishay Braverman and Erel Margalit were also in attendance.
“Today we are launching the economic anchor that will turn Beer-Sheva into a national and international center for cybernetics and cyber security,” the prime minister declared. The hi-tech park is the key following the establishment of the University, linking the southern capital with the center of the country and the IDF moving its technology units to the ATP and Beer-Sheva in the coming years, he said.
BGU President Rivka Carmi proclaimed, “The opening of the Advanced Technologies Park (ATP) in Beer-Sheva will be remembered as the turning point in the development of the Negev. We have always been at the geographical heart of Israel. Now we are on our way to becoming the true center for innovation and growth.”
“This is a project that took courage and vision to implement. Without the unwavering support of Mayor Ruvik Danilovich and BGU President Rivka Carmi and their leadership teams, I doubt we could have been successful. It is one of the best examples in the world of the public and private sectors successfully partnering,” said KUD International President and CEO Marvin J. Suomi. It was KUD’s support of the project in 2007 that moved it on to the national agenda.
A joint public-private partnership of BGU, the Beer-Sheva Municipality, KUD International LLC and Gav-Yam Negev, the ATP is completely reshaping the local job market by attracting leading hi-tech and bio-tech companies to the region. The goal is to harness the research and manpower emerging from BGU as well as the intelligence and communications units of the IDF when they move south in the coming years to catapult Beer-Sheva into a hi-tech center. Big data and cyber security are two of the fields Beer-Sheva intends to lead in the coming years. Last month, Netanyahu ordered the Israel National Cyber Bureau to turn Beer-Sheva into a cyber center as part of a new NIS 500m. national plan for the Negev.
The first building of the ATP was completed and occupied this summer by such international giants as Deutsche Telekom, EMC² RSA, Dalet, dbMotion, Ness Technologies, and Oracle. New incubators Elbit Incubit and JVP’s CyberLabs have eagerly arrived and BGN Technologies, the University’s technology transfer company, has also moved into its offices in the new building. The second building is already under construction. The plan is to have 16 buildings, including a conference center and a hotel. Gav-Yam CEO Avi Jacobovitz said the company had invested NIS 1 billion so far.
“My dream that Ben-Gurion University will do for Beer-Sheva what Stanford University did for Silicon Valley begins,” Braverman said in a taped message shown at the event. Braverman conceived of the idea when he was president of BGU.
“This is not just a holiday for Beer-Sheva but for the State of Israel,” declared Beer-Sheva Mayor Ruvik Danilovich, “this is an historic change which will turn Beer-Sheva into a knowledge center, and a boundary-breaking technological anchor.”
“‘Silicon Wadi’ is the story of people - who dreamed and who led,” he asserted.