Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s legacy continues with the emergence of Be’ersheva as Israel’s newest high-tech center, home to the 150-acre Advanced Technologies Park.
Former Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion predicted that that “the future of Israel lies in the Negev.” In fact, the Negev Desert comprises 60 percent of the country’s land mass, yet only 7 percent of the Israeli population currently lives there.
Decades after Ben-Gurion’s prophetic words, pressure to develop the Negev is increasing due to the cost of living and the housing crisis in Israel’s center.
Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu told Arutz Sheva that the government plans to invest 500 million NIS in Negev employment, particularly in the hi-tech sector. “Be’ersheva will become a cyber-center … as part of the activities of the national Cyber HQ,” he says. “This is a good sign for the future of Be’ersheva and the entire Negev.”
In collaboration with the Israeli government and the Be’ersheva Municipality, Ben-Gurion University (BGU) is a driving force behind the development of the Advanced Technologies Park in Be’ersheva. BGU President Rivka Carmi explained, “It is inevitable that Be’ersheva will become the country’s new technology park, considering how many companies will be opening [research and development] facilities and how many engineers we turn out each year.” These factors are expected to translate into countless new jobs in the Negev.
According to a Ben-Gurion University statement, “The 150-acre Advanced Technologies Park will fill in the apex of the triangle that includes Ben-Gurion University and Soroka University Medical Center.” The development is expected to be built in two stages, one civil and one military. The Defense Ministry has already contracted considerable space in which it will relocate its hi-tech campus, including the IDF’s computer units. The Advanced Technologies Park will also include research and development facilities, residential and administrative space, and a 300-room hotel and conference center. Both the national government and the Be’ersheva Municipality expect to offer financial and tax incentives to attract companies and industry.
Israel’s Ministry of Economy anticipates the presence of leading international companies in the region. For example, Deutsche Telekom will establish its laboratories in the park, which represents the first time DT has set up labs outside of Germany. Similarly, EMC International, which has already started operating in Be’ersheva in collaboration with BGU, plans to recruit about 200 employees in the coming four years. In addition, the Advanced Technologies Park will be home to Elbit’s technology incubator, which recently won a Ministry of Industry and Commerce tender, and NESS, which already set up a research and development center with approximately 150 employees. Other hi-tech companies such as HP, Oracle, Cisco, dbMotion, and IBM may also join in.
By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United with Israel