NEW YORK, July 3, 2008 -- Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) today announced it has reached a strategic cooperation agreement with Microsoft's R&D Center and Microsoft Israel for joint research projects and other collaborative activities.
As part of the agreement, the first of its kind in Israel, outstanding BGU computer science students will complete internships with Microsoft's R&D Center in Israel, including its special "Innovation Labs," which are focused on hands-on practical research.
The agreement will also facilitate joint research projects, global entrepreneurship programs, mentoring of final projects, and the creation of long term relationships with the Departments of Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering.
The announcement was made by BGU's President Prof. Rivka Carmi and Yoram Yaacovi, chief technological officer of Microsoft's R&D Center, at the opening ceremony of the University's Annual Project Day. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman visited the same Project Day last year, motivating him to publish a column on the ingenuity of BGU's students, calling them Israel's "oil wells."
Prof. Rivka Carmi noted that the University teaches some 20 percent of the students in the country in high-tech fields and sees the expansion of these fields in the Negev as a national mission. "BGU is the second largest educational institution in the country training engineers," she said, pointing out that today the vast majority of graduates leave the Negev once they complete their studies and detailed the University's involvement in developing an Advanced Technologies Park adjacent to the Marcus Family Campus.
Speaking at the ceremony, Yaacovi noted that: "the cooperation with BGU opens doors for excellent students, giving them direct access to the core of the global technology industry. We are creating a talented and exceptional group of programmers that will join the R&D Center and participate in developing the next generation of technology innovations."
Microsoft will select 18 outstanding students from BGU each year as interns.
"Eighteen continues to be a lucky number for Israel and now for Microsoft which will be able to collaborate with our most talented students," says Doron Krakow, executive vice president at American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the American-based fundraising arm for the University. "It is testament to our growing worldwide reputation for academic excellence that BGU is the first University in Israel to establish this innovative partnership with Microsoft."
The Microsoft R&D Center and the Innovation Labs
Microsoft's strategic R&D Center was launched in May 2007 following Microsoft's decision to increase its R&D activities in Israel. Today around 600 people are employed at two sites: The Herzliya Campus and the R&D Center in Haifa. The Center develops technologies and products in a number of areas, including telecommunication, security, PC health, and more.
In March 2008, Microsoft opened the Innovation Labs in the strategic R&D enters in the United States. Their uniqueness is based on the special integration between academic research and research and development for practical needs in the commercial market, looking three to five years ahead. The projects in the Innovation Labs are spread over a wide range of fields, including services and technologies for the online world and search engines, advertising and GPS, entertainment and research services, and technologies in opening fields.
About Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and American Associates
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is a world-renowned institute of research and higher learning with campuses in Beer-Sheva, Sede Boqer and Eilat in Israel's southern desert. It is a university with a conscience, where the highest academic standards are integrated with community involvement, committed to sustainable development of the Negev. Founded in 1972, this year marks American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's 36th year of support, helping BGU develop the bold new vision for the Negev: the focus of the future of Israel. For more information, please visit www.aabgu.org.
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