The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology on Sunday received a $130 million
grant to build an academy called the Technion Guangdong Institute of Technology
as a joint venture with China’s Shantou University.
The grant, from the
Li Ka Shing Foundation, includes profits from the foundation’s 2011 investment
in Israeli mobile app Waze. The grant is the largest in the Technion’s history,
and among the largest ever for Israeli higher education.
Waze in June for nearly $1 billion.
Guangdong Province and the Shantou
Municipal Government will allocate some $147 million to fund construction and
initial operations of the institute, which will extend over a 330,000-square
meter campus to be located next to Shantou University.
Speaking at the
signing ceremony in Tel Aviv on Sunday, Li Ka-shing, thought to be the richest
person in Asia, emphasized the importance of education to scientific
“In a world of fluid boundaries, the transformative power of
technology waves like a magic wand, bringing new models and opportunities to
many frontiers and generating new solutions to entrenched problems, but we all
know the wands are only as powerful as the wizards who use them, and the magic
comes from the genius within,” he said.
“Our responsibility is to invest
in education to unlock that genius and enable the continuing realization of
human potential, building a society rich in knowledge and securing a sustainable
quality of life for all. Failing to do so amounts to a crime against the
The Technion Guangdong Institute of Technology will begin
offering students undergraduate programs in civil and environmental engineering
and computer sciences in the 2014-2015 academic year. Programs will be taught in
English, and the faculty will be recruited from the ranks of researchers and
scientists at universities worldwide.
Starting in 2014, Technion
Guangdong Institute of Technology will join Shantou University in conducting
life sciences research tackling important social and livelihood issues in China,
such as healthcare. During the campus construction phase, the inaugural group of
students will spend the first two years of studies at the Technion in Haifa,
after which they will return to Shantou for their third year.
to the universities, by 2020, the institute will offer courses in other
engineering- related fields, including mechanical and aerospace engineering.
Some of the grant’s funds will go toward upgrading the Technion’s Haifa
Technion President Peretz Lavie described the partnership as “a
major breakthrough and an opportunity to strengthen ties between Israel and
“When you combine the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of
Israel with the unbelievable scale of China, you have a great partnership,” he
said in a statement.
Following a visit to China in May, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu cited increased trade with China as one of Israel’s main
motors of future economic growth. To that end, Israel is laying the groundwork
to begin free trade negotiations with the world’s most populous
Just as China offers tiny Israel a sizable market, Israel’s
innovative ways may provide some solutions to China’s tough
China has a growing middle class, an aging population and
plans to urbanize a quarter billion people by 2025, and must deal with all the
accompanying environmental, infrastructural and energy
Rebecca Zeffert, founder and executive director of the
Israel- Asia Center, said that all of “Asia – China included – is facing some of
the world’s most pressing challenges.”
“In the past couple of years,
Israel has been playing catch-up in its building of stronger ties with countries
in Asia, and China in particular. There is still a great deal of work to be
done. However, the Li Ka Shing-funded partnership between the Technion and
Shantou University is a big step in the right direction,” she
Shantou University Provost Gu Peihua, who has set his sights on
making the Technion Guangdong Institute of Technology the best technological
university in Guangdong, China and eventually, the world, said he hoped to be
able to reproduce in his country the contributions that the Technion’s research
and innovation have made to the Israeli economy.
“If many universities in
Guangdong and China do the same as Technion has been doing in Israel, an
innovation-based economy will emerge,” Gu said.
During the signing
ceremony, Lavie gifted Gu with a sapling from the palm tree that Albert
Einstein, who founded the Technion’s first support society, planted at the the
school’s gates 90 years ago. Gu said it would go well with the sapling from
Isaac Newton’s apple tree that they had received from the University of