Universities are taking a growing role in technology innovation and by that become drivers for regional or national economic growth. An increasing number of universities are establishing strong entrepreneurship and innovation (E&I) profiles and reputations. A benchmarking study commissioned by the MIT-Skoltech Initiative to gain insight into the conditions and strategies associated with the most successful university-based entrepreneurial ecosystems, identified the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, as one of the top 10 esteemed entrepreneurial universities. Moreover, the Technion was ranked first among all universities operating in “challenging” environments. More recently the Technion was ranked by the Times Higher Education as number one in the world in digital education.
Indeed, Technion’s graduates are responsible for turning Israel into a “Start-Up” Nation by providing the professional backbone for the thriving Israeli high-tech sector. Since 1995, Technion graduates have established more than 2000 companies, of which 811 are still active today. More than 400 graduates established at least 2 companies each and 18 established 5 or more. These companies created, in Israel alone, 100,000 jobs and brought $30 Billion through merging and acquisition.
Several factors are responsible for the success of the Technion-based I&E ecosystem. First and foremost, the E&I culture is sown into the Technion fabric from its very beginning. From its foundation in 1912, the Technion’s mission was to provide service to humanity and to the State of Israel once it would be established. As such, basic and applied research, both essential to support I&E were seen as the two sides of the same coin. The Technion’s history clearly demonstrates that necessity is the mother of invention, as some of its historical landmark events, such as opening the Faculty of Aeronautical Engineering in 1954, the Faculties of Medicine and Computer Science and establishing the microelectronic Institute, all in 1969, were motivated by urgent national needs. Throughout its history, the Technion has understood that part of its mission is to find solutions to national needs. Thus, even though faculty members are free to conduct applied or basic research as they choose, they are ready to focus on issues of national and international priorities. Additional ingredients of success are involvement of students as researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs, support of risk-taking research, multidisciplinary collaboration, and institutional support of technology transfer. Recognizing that innovation will come from research teams interacting across disciplines, the Technion established several virtual multidisciplinary research centers in nanotechnology, energy, autonomous systems, life sciences and engineering, and integrated cancer research, that bridge between disciplines and faculties. Multidisciplinary research was also the principle of the academic structure of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute in New York that comprises 3 interdisciplinary research hubs in the connective media, healthier life and the built environment. In addition, the Technion offers entrepreneurship programs and incubators, fostering alumni mentorships and encourage students’ interaction with industry.
ABOUT PERETZ LAVIE, PH.D.
Professor Peretz Lavie – Technion President Professor Peretz Lavie – a renowned researcher, educator, and clinician – was elected as President of the Technion in 2009. During his tenure as Technion President, Prof. Lavie has helped transform the university into a global powerhouse that is persistently ranked among the top 100 universities in the world. This is a direct result of his stated goals, which include raising the profile of the value of higher education in Israel; recruiting more than 250 world-class faculty members and Israel’s brightest students; and ensuring that the Technion continues to advance as one of the world’s leading science- and technology-universities by pioneering a variety of new and international programs. The Technion is a major source of the innovation and brainpower that drives the Israeli economy, and a key to Israel’s reputation as the world’s “Start-Up Nation.” It was ranked 6th in the world by a survey conducted by MIT that evaluated entrepreneurship and innovation in higher education institutions worldwide. Prof. Lavie was instrumental in forming an alliance with Cornell University in order to compete for the right to build a $2 billion graduate school of applied sciences on Roosevelt Island, with the goal of transforming New York City into the world’s premier technology capital. The success of this bid, and the creation of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute (JTCI) in 2012, was the first such honor to be received by any Israeli center of higher education. Another major achievement included the establishment of the Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT) in Shantou, China. President Lavie’s presidency, witnessed the receipt of the Technion’s third Nobel Prize in Science when in 2011 the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Prof. Dan Shechtman for the discovery of quasicrystals.