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Ambassador praises BGU – The Australian Jewish News

AUSTRALIAN Ambassador to Israel, Paul Griffiths, has praised Israel’s “dynamism” and believes there is potential for Australian universities to collaborate with Ben-Gurion University (BGU).

Griffiths was the honoured guest of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev last week and says he was struck by the synergies with Australian interests.

“There is a dynamism in Israel and at BGU,” said Griffiths.

“A readiness to take risks and to be creative. They look to solve global problems, not just local ones.”

Griffiths was given briefings about BGU’s strengths in cyber security, agriculture and biotechnology research. He learned about how the university partners with multinational companies and international thought leaders to tackle real-world problems.

He said there is an opportunity to explore joint research projects between the two countries and says the continued growth of investment into Israeli technology is of particular interest.

“$26 billion was invested in Israel’s technology ecosystem last year. The technology solutions generated here presents lots of opportunities for the Australian public and private sector,” said Griffiths.

“Australian universities contribute significantly to global innovation and our education builds world-leading talent. Combining this with Israel’s ability to commercialise academic research presents enormous potential.

“We will explore joint research and development and commercialisation, joint proof of concepts for new technologies, and academic programs.”

President of BGU, Professor Daniel Chamovitz, said it’s amazing what the up-and-coming university has already accomplished and praised its focus on global issues, including cybersecurity and drylands agriculture.

“We are proud that a third of Israel’s engineers are graduates of our university – testimony of our focus on the significance of academia and industry collaboration. BGU is a strategic partner in the Advanced Technologies Park adjacent to the university because we want to create jobs for our graduates in the South, where the future of Israel lies,” said Chamovitz.

Griffiths noted the similarities between Australia’s drylands environment and the Negev, and was intrigued by how BGU’s researchers are developing innovative solutions to allow sustainable dryland agriculture and efficient water use.

“Entrepreneurship is a state of mind, a way of thinking,” said Chamovitz.

“We are moving the university towards company and startup building, better preparing the leaders of tomorrow, beginning with our first in class entrepreneurship centre and student-led venture capital firm.”

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