Towards Israel 2040: New Innovation and High-Tech Park for the Galilee

Monday, June 29, 2020 4:00 PM

The cornerstone laid for the KKL-JNF Zemach-Kinneret Innovation and High Tech Park is a significant milestone in KKL-JNF’s Israel 2040 plan, which aims to turn the underdeveloped Negev and Galilee regions into Israel’s next Silicon Wadi.


With great festivity, on June 23, 2020, KKL-JNF and the Zemach Group laid the cornerstone for the KKL-JNF Zemach-Kinneret Innovation and High Tech Park in the Galilee. The center will serve as a technology incubator and knowledge hub for northern Israel. The center will advance academic specialization, research and innovation in the fields of agro-tech, food-tech and water, and will employ about 10,000 people for well-paid, high-quality jobs as part of its core workforce. It will also attract international companies and investors, bringing progress and development to northern Israel. The high-tech park, now underway with an investment of 50 million NIS, is an integral part of KKL-JNF’s Israel 2040 vision to transform the underdeveloped Negev and Galilee regions into Israel’s next engine of growth.


Among those present at the cornerstone laying ceremony were Science and Technology Minister Yizhar Shai, KKL-JNF World Chairman Daniel Atar, Jordan Valley Regional Council Chairman Idan Greenbaum, Kinneret Academic College President Prof. Shimon Gepstein, Zemach Industries Chairman Tal Yeshua, and Zemach Industries Director-General Menashe Shalom.


The center is expected to attract hundreds of international companies and advance new R&D branches for them. It will also establish 20 new development centers for local industry and provide information and support to innovators and entrepreneurs from the Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) periphery.


The building, a four-storey complex being built in accordance with the latest green standards, will extend over a total area of 5.5 square kilometers. The two lower floors will constitute the Science House, which will be equipped with cutting-edge experimental labs for modeling and experimentation. The Science House will operate under the auspices of the Kinneret Academic College, using an approach that combines academic research with advanced industrial agro-tech. Among the new laboratories being built (today temporarily situated on the college campus) are a hydrodynamics and water\gas flow lab; a water-treatment and desalination lab; a general and organic chemistry lab; a microbiology lab; an effluent and sludge treatment lab, and more.


The two upper floors of the building will comprise the Innovation Center, which will offer shared workspaces for professional agrotech and advanced water technology workshops. The center will also operate a school for innovation and entrepreneurship; run industrial workshops; and provide startup-accelerator and impact-investment programs. The integration of the scientific and entrepreneurial centers under a single complex will provide a unique ecosystem for innovation and enterprise to thrive.


Minister of Science and Technology Yizhar Shai, who helped lay the foundation stone at the ceremony, told those present: “Israel is a world power where innovation is concerned, but, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, only around 22% of the startup companies launched each year operate in the country’s outlying areas. This is a serious problem. Constructing platforms for the growth of startup companies in the periphery will lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs, encourage young families to move outside the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and close socio-economic gaps between Israel’s center and its periphery. Cooperative initiatives of this kind between academia, local authorities and industry are key to the growth of innovation centers throughout the startup nation. This is a Zionist project of unparalleled importance, and I am proud to congratulate KKL-JNF, the Jordan Valley Regional Council, Kinneret Academic College, Zemach Industries and all the other good people involved in the project, on this welcome initiative. The Ministry of Science and Technology under my auspices will be glad to support this important project to its utmost ability.”


KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar said, “The launch of the KKL-JNF Zemach-Kinneret House as part of KKL-JNF’s flagship Israel 2040 vision is another significant step towards realizing our goal of promoting and developing communities, employment, education and infrastructure in Galilee and the Negev. As someone who has accompanied and led the project since its inception, I feel enormous pride in watching it take shape, and I thank our partners in this enterprise. KKL-JNF, as a full strategic partner in the center’s establishment, will help to ensure its success as an attractive international venue for agrotech, hi-tech and industry. The innovation center will emphasize the relationship between technology and agriculture, two spheres in which Israel enjoys worldwide acclaim, enhancing Israel’s status as a powerhouse for innovation and agricultural technology and as a growth engine for Israeli agricultural industry in general and the Galilee region in particular.”


Kinneret Academic College President Prof. Shimon Gepstein said, “The Science House and Innovation Center are the dawn of a new era for Israeli agrotech and hi-tech. This is a space that will serve students, hi-tech personnel, entrepreneurs and investors who understand the importance of agrotech in Israeli and international industry. I am sure that we shall hear a great deal about the fruits of the Science House’s labors. Kinneret Academic College’s students, lecturers and researchers will enjoy a wide range of innovative laboratories and equipment to use in their professional work and new research projects, to produce innumerable breakthroughs in the future. We are glad to have joined forces with KKL-JNF, the JCA Charitable Foundation and Zemach Industries, who share this vision and play a vital central role at the KKL-JNF Zemach-Kinneret Innovation and High Tech Park. We are confident that our joint efforts will raise us to new and magnificent heights.”


Menashe Shalom, Director-General of Zemach Regional Industries and Jordan Valley Farms, said, “Since the start of modern Jewish settlement in the Valley over a hundred years ago, Valley pioneers have done things in their own way, persevering and advancing despite all the difficulties. They have remained firmly connected to their roots and values: hard work, initiative, solidarity and groundbreaking farming techniques. Today, too, we at Zemach Regional Industries embrace excellence and innovation as core values, and thus it is only natural that we have decided to link our innovative industry and advanced farming methods to academia, industry and Zionism in order to strengthen and develop our excellent community here in Israel’s periphery. We are setting ourselves new challenges as we strive to help provide agrotech solutions for the world’s population.”