Tel Aviv University and Tsinghua University in Beijing signed a memorandum of understanding for “strategic cooperation in innovative research and education for the mutual benefit of both nations.”

The schools intend to establish a joint research center to serve as an international hub for scientific and technical innovation, according to the memorandum, which was signed in Beijing in the presence of the universities’ presidents, Ambassador to China Matan Vilna’i and leaders of the Israeli business community in Beijing.

The XIN center will aim to “advance interdisciplinary research, provide optimal conditions for creativity, and promote activity in fields that can truly impact society in both countries and the entire world,” and will include input from academia and industry representatives. It will be at Tsinghua University, but research will also be conducted at Tel Aviv University.

The universities said they would recruit “the best minds” in Israel, China and the rest of the world to work at the center, which will initially focus on fields that enjoy accelerated development in both Israel and in China, such as nanotechnology, but in time will expand to other fields of science.

To seed ventures initiated by XIN fellows, an investment fund of RMB 100 million – more than $16m. – will be set up by the Israeli-Chinese private equity fund Infinity Group. Investors in the fund will include the Beijing government and alumni of Tsinghua University.

Tel Aviv University President Joseph Klafter said the memorandum was “an exceptionally important agreement, opening new horizons for Israel and Israeli society.

“The establishment of the XIN Center is evidence of the considerable esteem in which the Chinese hold Israeli innovation and the high academic standards of Tel Aviv University,” Klafter said.

Prof. Chen Jining, president of Tsinghua University, stressed the importance of cultivating innovative future scientists and leaders and added that his institution was ready to work with Tel Aviv University to push forward cross-disciplinary research and explore ways to answer global challenges.

Avi Hasson, chief scientist of the Economy and Trade Ministry, said the cooperation agreement was “an excellent model for multifaceted collaboration in our modern technological world between academic institutions and industry on an international level.” He congratulated the parties and wished them a “fruitful and successful collaboration.”

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