The Technion – Israel’s Hard Drive


The most ambitious project in the sphere of technology studies, and perhaps in all of higher education, in the world is being planned, and Israel’s leading technology institute, the Technion, is playing a major role in it.

Cornell and the Technion together won the prize in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s contest to create a new science school.  According to the Technion,The Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute (TCII) is a joint venture of Technion and Cornell University, and will be a key component of the new Cornell NYC Tech campus, a unique high-tech graduate school to be established on Roosevelt Island in New York City. As conceived by Mayor Bloomberg, the goal of the entire NYC Tech campus – and the TCII within it – is to turn NYC into the high-tech capital of the world.Even though the sprawling Cornell NYC Tech campus on Roosevelt Island is still 25 years away, the New York Times recently reported that the first program is already up and running. Eight students enrolled in January in what is being called the beta class, a one-year master’s program in computer science.

Perhaps in light of this exciting project on the horizon in New York, the Times recently covered the Technion and tried to understand what is the “magic formula” which makes the Technion such a phenomenon:

“I can say without exaggeration that Israel could not have been built without the Technion,” says Yossi Vardi, who has founded or helped build more than 60 companies in Israel and has five degrees from the Technion. “There is a Technion graduate behind practically every highway, desalinization plant, new missile technology and start-up company in the country.”

This is not mere school spirit talking. According to Shlomo Maital, senior research fellow at the Samuel Neaman Institute for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology, a fourth of the university’s 60,000 alumni who are of working age have, at one time or another, initiated a business, and a fourth are C.E.O.’s or vice presidents. The annual output of graduates in high-tech industries is estimated to be at least $21 billion. Among inventions from Technion research labs: the memory stick, drip irrigation, the Parkinson’s drug rasagiline, the iron dome air defense system and instant messaging.

What stand behind the success is being debated, it could be the fact that Israeli students come out of their military service, making them more mature, it could be the “Jewish Mother” effect, or simply excellence in education.  Whatever it is, New York’s Bloomberg hopes that the Cornell NYC Tech will do for the city what the Technion has done for Haifa, and for Israel’s hi-tech industry as a whole.

For the full New York Times article click here.

Israel Trade & Economic Office, Embassy of Israel