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TAU President Greetings

Greetings by Professor Joseph Klafter, President of Tel Aviv University

(Originally presented in Deep Innovation Workshop on 19th May, 2014.)

It is a great pleasure to welcome you to Coller Institute of Venture.

First a few words about Tel Aviv University, or TAU as we call it.

  • TAU ranks number one in Israel in the number and impact of research publications, and is consistently selected as the first choice of students from among Israel’s 69 colleges and universities.
  • With over 30,000 students, we offer 125 schools and departments across the spectrum of sciences, humanities and arts together with Israel’s biggest medical teaching and research complex.
  • Now, this event today epitomizes three core values that drive TAU.
  • They are what I call the three “i’s”: interdisciplinary, international, and interactive.

Let me elaborate.

Interdisciplinary

  • At TAU, “interdisciplinary” is not just a long word.
  • It energizes and defines our academic culture.
  • Our breadth of expertise – combined with the university’s location in Tel Aviv, nerve center of Israeli industry, business and the arts – creates ideal conditions for cross-disciplinary research programs.
  • Recognized centers of collaborative excellence are in neuroscience, environmental studies, nanoscience, renewable energy, cyber security and food security among several others.
  • The goal of the University is to continue providing optimal conditions for interdisciplinary cooperation through the establishment of umbrella research centers and shared equipment facilities. For example, since its establishment in 2000, Tel Aviv University’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Center has coordinated the work of 66 nano researchers from the range of medical and hard sciences, 20 of them recruited just in the last 5 years from institutions like Harvard, MIT and Caltech.

International

  • Cutting-edge scientific advances at TAU are reinforced through links with the world’s leading research institutions, ranging from the NIH, NASA and Harvard to CERN in Geneva.
  • Tomorrow morning, for example, we are signing an agreement with Tsinghua University in Beijing, also known as the “MIT of China,” to set up a joint innovation center. This will launch the largest research collaboration in the history of Israeli-Chinese academic relations.
  • We are privileged that Dr. Shelley Harrison, Senior Advisor & Head of Corporate Portfolio Ventures at Coller Capital, will be speaking at this historic event.
  • A recent drive to expand study programs taught in English has met with outstanding response from students from over 60 countries. International students have topped 1,500 this academic year.

Programs range from an international MBA to degrees in conflict resolution, security studies, trauma studies and music, and several are run in cooperation with top institutions such as the Kellogg School of Management and Johns Hopkins.

Interactive

  • Perhaps the greatest challenge to our university is the need to connect academic work with the wider society.
  • This takes many forms both not-for-profit and for-profit.
  • On the not-for-profit side TAU is committed to the needs of its students and the local Israeli community.

Through its many scholarship programs, TAU brings disadvantaged, minority, new immigrant and periphery youth to the university, provides them with mentors and financial aid, and gives them every chance to succeed and inspire others.

  • Even more, about 1,000 students volunteer yearly to gain community leadership skills and a civic spirit through dozens of social involvement programs.
  • In addition, TAU faculty and alumni shape Israel’s public agenda in advisory, managerial and diplomatic roles in the Knesset, government, defense establishment, legal system, professional organizations and NGOs.
  • On the for-profit side, often called “technology transfer,” we strive to be as innovative as we can.

The University commercializes its laboratory discoveries through its technology transfer company, Ramot.

To date, 2,400 patents have been filed, making Tel Aviv University 29th in the world for patents among academic institutions.

New technologies coming out of TAU have generated 65 startup companies and 198 licenses.

Currently, 23 drugs and medical treatments based on Tel Aviv University intellectual property are in the development pipeline.

Now you see why the work of the Coller Institute of Venture in general and this workshop on deep innovation in particular epitomizes these three values.

The workshop today is interdisciplinary in nature, as we are bringing leaders from the brain and nano areas together with business practitioners and scholars.

The workshop is international in nature, as we have about 60 participates from more than 10 countries.

And, finally, we structured this workshop as an interactive event that brings together “science” and “venture” in the same room.

The official purpose of the workshop, so I am told, is “to explore the nature of the venture ecosystem when it comes to deep innovation.”

Unofficially, I am sure that bringing such a diverse group of people to one room with good food will generate many new ideas on many levels. It is our pleasure to be the incubator for such ideas.

I wanted to end my opening, with a “thank you” to the Coller Foundation and Jeremy Coller. Jeremy not only supported this workshop, this incubator, financially,

but he also defined and advanced the institute mission and plans.

Thank you, Jeremy.

I look forward to many years of our working together.