The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology signed an agreement on Sunday to create a seed fund, to promote and support early-stage collaborations between researchers at the two institutions.
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It is the first such fund that MIT has launched in Israel through its MIT International Science and Technology Initiative (MISTI).
The base concept behind the program, from MIT's perspective, is to expose its students to different mentalities beyond the United States, Prof. Joseph Kost, dean of Engineering Sciences, tells Haaretz.
The desert university has had quite the budding relationship with MIT. With the signing of the agreement on Sunday, MISTI now has two programs in Israel, Kost explains.
"In one program, select students from MIT come for the summer. It's a 15-week program, which began in 2005. They go to universities, including BGU, and to commercial companies as well, such as Teva," Kost says. "The students connect with faculty members doing work they're interested in and spend the summer with them, for instance doing lab work. MIT's purpose in this is to expose them to non-U.S. mentality." No less than 77 students participated in the study year 2013-2014.
The second program is the seed fund now launched, which is designed to forge relationships between the two institutions – to strengthen collaboration between MIT and BGU.
The concept is that researchers from MIT and BGU come up with joint research proposals. The ones that pass the review receive seed funding, to develop their early-stage concept to the point of being eligible to find more money from other sources, Kost explains.
"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 MIT-Israel and assistant director of MISTI.
MIT’s Dean Ortiz and David Dolev, together with Prof. John Lienhard and Prof. Nicholas Negroponte, came to Israel this week with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s trade mission to Israel.
MIT was represented at the signing by MIT-Israel Faculty Director and MIT’s Dean of Graduate Education, Prof. Christine Ortiz. BGU was represented by Rector Prof. Zvi Hacohen and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Sciences Prof. Joseph Kost.