$50 million sustainability center donated to Technion by Stewart, Lynda Resnick

With a rapidly-growing world population, the Stewart and Lynda Resnick Sustainability Center for Catalysis will tackle issues that will arise as global resources deplete.

The Computer Science Faculty building at Technion University in Haifa, Israel (photo credit: BENY SHLEVICH/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
The Computer Science Faculty building at Technion University in Haifa, Israel
(photo credit: BENY SHLEVICH/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Renowned Jewish philanthropists Stewart and Lynda Resnick on Tuesday pledged $50 million towards the development of a research and development facility to study sustainability and catalysis.

With a rapidly-growing world population and longer life expectancies, the Stewart and Lynda Resnick Sustainability Center for Catalysis will tackle issues that will arise as the global population swells to 10 billion by the year 2050. 

As innovative solutions to produce food, medicines, and other products become critical due to the accelerated depletion of essential natural resources, the pledge is the latest in a series of gifts by the Resnicks' foundation – The Wonderful Company – intended to protect future ecosystems and preserve natural resources.

 Philanthropist couple Lynda and Stewart Resnick. (credit: WONDERFUL COMPANY) Philanthropist couple Lynda and Stewart Resnick. (credit: WONDERFUL COMPANY)

What is Catalysis and how can it help the environment?

Catalysis is a chemical process that uses “catalysts” dramatically speed up a reaction between molecules – it occurs naturally within our bodies. In industry, catalysis is involved in 90% of the production processes. The constant improvement of catalysis processes makes industrial methods more efficient and reduces their environmental damage, hence the connection between catalysis and sustainability.

“By using new catalysts, we can, for example, not only reduce pollution in the process of plastic production but also make plastics that can be degraded and recycled,” Professor Ilan Marek of the Technion’s Schulich Faculty of Chemistry, who will head the Center, explained.

"The daily impact of environmental change is seen through every aspect of our world. We need great minds across the globe working to preserve the planet to prepare for the needs of future generations. It's now or never," donor Stewart Resnick said. "Through the resources, dedication, and efforts that will emerge from this sustainability and catalysis center, we will confront the climate crisis rather than hide from it.”

"We understand today that continuing to produce more and more with the current methods is not a sustainable solution," Prof. Marek added. "Instead, we must refine the production processes and reduce their impact on the environment. The key is improving the many catalytic processes currently being used in thousands of production processes in all branches of industry.”

The Center's activity will strengthen the State of Israel and its economy and bolster the Technion's position as a global center of innovation. It also becomes the latest in a string of projects that have totaled $2.3 billion in philanthropy – $1.3 billion of which has been invested in environmental sustainability to help combat climate change and preserve the planet for future generations. 

"We thank Lynda and Stewart Resnick for their partnership and transformative gift. The climate crisis is one of humanity's greatest challenges in the 21st century," said Technion President Professor Uri Sivan. "Coping with this challenge demands many different scientific capabilities…The Stewart and Lynda Resnick Sustainability Center for Catalysis will encompass a wide range of scientific expertise and enable us to meet the climate crisis and sustainable development challenges,” Sivan concluded.