Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. has announced that it will open a research and development branch at the Advanced Technologies Park adjacent to BGU next year. More than 2,000 engineers are already employed at the ATP.
“Ben-Gurion University has become a model and example of how to integrate hi-tech industry with the stellar academic research conducted in the University's departments. Rafael's presence in the ATP is another indicator of trust in the power of the University's research and our vision to create the ATP with the Beer-Sheva Municipality and Gav-Yam, with significant support from the government of Israel. The international companies recognize the potential and come to Beer-Sheva because of the skills and innovation here. They discover a whole world of activities and understand that academia is a leading engine of development and growth, not just with regard to straightforward links between industry and academia – but also in creating space within the University that enables innovation and entrepreneurship," says BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi.
“The first companies who opened centers of excellence at the ATP paved the way and Rafael's new R&D center continues to realize the grand vision we have set ourselves," she adds.
Over the past year, the Beer-Sheva Municipality and the management of Rafael have held intensive discussions about developing a major presence in the southern capital to expand the potential human resources available to the company in technological fields such as mechanical, electrical and computer engineering, primarily from BGU. BGU produces around a third of Israel's engineers each year.
Rafael designs, develops, manufactures and supplies a wide range of high-tech defense systems for air, land, sea and space applications. The company has more than 7,500 employees, 65% of whom hold academic degrees in science and engineering. About 300 of them hold PhDs.
Beer-Sheva Mayor Ruvik Danilovich, “This is exciting news for Beer-Sheva and the Negev. Over the past year, we held feverish talks with the management of Rafael and its CEO, and to my great delight, the board of directors took a strategic decision regarding the company's future development. Rafael is a magnificent company, a technological giant, and this decision reinforces Beer-Sheva's place as a hi-tech capital.
“This is an additional technological anchor that transforms Beer-Sheva into an international center of knowledge, technology and cyber security, to which companies flock from all over the world.
“Moreover, this is great and important news for employment in the south, since Rafael's arrival in the Negev will generate many jobs.
“I am full of respect for the company's CEO Mr. Yoav Har-Even, Chairman of the Board Dr. Uzi Landau and the members of the Board for making this important decision in the spirit of the state's founding father, David Ben-Gurion," he concludes.
Rafael CEO Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Yoav Har Even notes that Rafael was and will continue to be a central anchor in the north as the largest industrial employer. “At the same time, the company's growth and the resultant challenges in recruiting led us to the decision to open an R&D center in Beer-Sheva as well, as part of Rafael's strategic national expansion plan, to contribute to employment in additional cities and to recruit outstanding engineers from all around the country.
“Rafael's vision is to be a major player in safeguarding the state and its contribution to developing cities like Beer-Sheva is an inseparable part of that vision," adds Har-Even.