NTU sets up innovation centre in Israel, will send students to work in high-tech start-ups

SINGAPORE - Nanyang Technological University students keen on developing entrepreneurial know-how can from next year (2018) head to one of the most entrepreneurial nations in the world - Israel.

NTU has set up an innovation centre in Haifa, Israel, and said on Friday (June 30) that it intends to send up to 20 students yearly to the country to work in high-tech start-ups.

Israel - dubbed the "Start-Up Nation" - is the fifth destination to be included in NTUitive's Overseas Entrepreneurship Programme.

The others include Silicon Valley in the United States, Beijing and Shanghai in China, and London in Britain.

Every year, about 60 NTU undergrads head overseas under the entrepreneurship programme.

Made-in-NTU companies that wish to explore the Israeli market and capital opportunities can also use the NTU Innovation centre in Haifa as a base for their initial operations. The centre will also aim to accelerate research collaboration between NTU and leading Israeli universities.

NTU president Bertil Andersson, who opened the centre on Thursday, said: "Beyond our focus in research, Haifa is also a great place to expose Singapore students to innovation and entrepreneurship.

"NTU students will be able to enrol in programmes that will immerse them in the latest innovations in Israel's fast-paced high-tech industry. It will also give them first-hand exposure to the renowned start-up ecosystem."

NTU said it chose to set up the centre in Israel as the country continues to produce an impressive number of highly successful tech start-ups relative to its national population, which is only about 8.3 million.

According to the World Economic Forum, Israel ranks No. 2 globally in innovation and availability of venture capital. Israel is also among the top three nations worldwide for the quality of its research institutions, company spending on research and development and university and industry collaboration.

Haifa, in northern Israel, is the nation's hub for research and development, and home to two of the country's respected institutions - the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, often called Israel's MIT, and the University of Haifa.

NTU said one of the research areas that it will collaborate on is related to the maritime sector, given the university's expertise in advanced marine-related research and Singapore's strengths in maritime port technologies.