Be'er Sheva Wooing Cybersecurity Firms

Economy Ministry plans to offer $17 million to companies that open R&D centers in Be'er Sheva.

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The entrance to the Be'er Sheva high-tech park.Credit: Eliahu Hershkovitz

The Israeli government will offer 60 million shekels ($17 million) in subsidies to cybersecurity firms that open research-and-development centers at new science park in Be’er Sheva, the Economy Ministry announced Tuesday.

The salary subsidies are part of an effort to encourage foreign cybersecurity firms to set up operations in Israel, the ministry’s director general Amit Lang said on a tour of the science park led by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.

“I’m no great believer in government intervention,” Bennett said on the tour. “But in this context, there is major importance in such intervention to create the ecosystem necessary to attract multinational companies here.”

IBM, Cisco, EMC, Lockheed Martin RSA and Deutsche Telekom have already announced plans to set up R&D facilities in the park, called CyberSpark. The plans were first unveiled by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cybersecurity conference in Tel Aviv in January. The number of Israeli cybersecurity companies has grown from a few dozen to some 220 over the past few years, according to the IVC Research Center, a firm that tracks Israeli high-tech.

Deputy Education Minister Avi Wortzman called developments in Be’er Sheva, the largest city in the Negev Desert, “a dream,” noting that until recently, the city had suffered from out-migration. “Now more and more people want to come and live in Be’er Sheva. It’s important for us to develop Be’er Sheva as the opportunity capital of the State of Israel,” he said.

Be’er Sheva Mayor Ruvik Danilovich said that after years of talk about developing the Negev and the Galilee, the high-tech park was attracting multinational corporations. He credited collaboration between the Prime Minister’s Office, the Economy Ministry and the Finance Ministry.

Naftali Bennett, head of Habayit Hayehudi, speaks in Ashdod, Israel, Dec. 26, 2012.Credit: AP