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U.S. - Israel Center Established at UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management

The center is a civic, industrial and academic partnership between the U.S. and Israel

The Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego, today announced the launch of the U.S. - Israel Center on Innovation and Economic Sustainability, supported in part by the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego’s Israel Studies Fund. The center will promote collaboration between businesses, entrepreneurs, researchers and the diverse cultures of Israel to enable the translation of technology into new global market opportunities. It also will facilitate interactions between the respective innovation communities of the U.S. and Israel. The center has entered into discussions with four universities in Israel ­— Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, Technion and IDC Herzliya and plans to collaborate with the UC Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israeli Law, Economy, and Society and the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies at UCLA.

“This center will be the first U.S. - Israel center at a major university to focus on innovation, sustainability and job creation,” said Rady School Dean Robert S. Sullivan. “It is also about community building. The center will provide opportunities for the Israeli and San Diego entrepreneurial communities to interact, to identify new opportunities and to provide unparalleled immersion learning for students and the community.”

“Technology and global business development means the world is becoming ever smaller,” said Charlene Seidle, Jewish Community Foundation senior vice president. “Strategic relationship building and shared learning make sense. The center will build from the already robust connections between Israel and San Diego in order to reach new heights of innovation that fill real-time needs.”

The U.S. - Israel Center will empower the academic and technology communities in the U.S. and Israel to collaboratively examine the practices that lead to the success of startup companies. This collaboration will be mutually beneficial as both nations have complementary strengths: Israel being a leader in creating new products and services; the U.S. being skilled at bringing companies to scale and developing sustainable businesses.

The initiatives of the center will serve academics, businesses and the broader community in direct and meaningful ways. The center’s first venture will be the Immersion Program, beginning in December 2012, where students from the U.S. will travel to Israel to build cross-cultural networks and gain first-hand knowledge of the impetus for innovation in Israel. Correspondingly, Israeli students will also travel to the Rady School campus in February of 2013 for a complementary immersion program.

“The Immersion Program gives students the rare opportunity to directly learn about innovation and economic sustainability,” said Rady Professor Uri Gneezy, the academic director of the center. “Our students won’t just be observers of what is happening in Israel; they will actually be a part of it.”

The center will also collaborate on solving social issues in Israel. Rady students will collaborate with Israeli student social activists to help spur commercial and community development and explore the innovative, cutting-edge models of social entrepreneurship.

Other center initiatives include community engagement, an annual conference, a visiting scholars program, an internship program, connecting Israeli dignitaries to the center and the San Diego community and a program that promotes discourse about Israel across the UC San Diego campus.

“This center will focus on the nexus of discovery, on people and on networking,” said Sullivan. “It’s not just us learning from Israel. It is engaging with Israel as a partner in innovation.”