In 1995, Norbert Blechner, an American philanthropist and a valued friend of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, was instrumental in the establishment of the Blechner Center for Industrial Catalysis and Process Development.
The Center supports scientific research in active catalysis development with practical applications. Between the basic investigations for which academic institutions are best known and the commercially driven development of products in industrial laboratories lies a vast area that the Blechner Center hopes to bridge. After more than fifty years working in the minerals trade, Blechner is well aware of the potential for industrial applications of new catalysts and recognizes the need to encourage scientists to take the extra step forward from basic to applied research. Over the past six years, the Blechner Center for Industrial Catalysis and Process Development has provided the environment for exceptional research and development in the field. Areas of expertise include catalysis for refinery and petrochemical processes and for intermediates to agrochemicals, aroma and pharmaceuticals. Researchers affiliated with the center have already filed six patents. Another mark of the Center's success has been the number of contracts with industrial companies. The Blechner Center actively works with a number of Israeli and international companies. The continuous exploratory research is expected to attract increasing collaboration with industry. The Blechner Center will be one of the important partners in the industrial park to be established by the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Clearly, the Norbert Blechner Center for Industrial Catalysis and Process Development is already having an impact in the Negev.
The transfer of knowledge from the University to the market place in this frontier region if boosting local economic capabilities. For Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, founded specifically with the mission to bring development to the region, each research project that strengthens local commercial ventures is a Source of pride.
Norbert Blechner's commitment to Israel and Jewish values goes beyond economics and science. Blechner has acted upon his belief that a Jewish state needs Jewish values and Jewish knowledge. He has established the Blechner Chair in Jewish tradition and Values and the Blechner and Friends Career Development Chair in East European Jewish culture. This is in addition to his generous support for student scholarship funds and general support for the University.
In 1989, Mr. Blechner received an honorary doctorate from the University in recognition of his involvement and support. In 1999, he received the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award for his Unending commitment to academic excellence at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Mr. Blechner passed away on March 16, 2005. It is a great loss to all of us. We cherished Mr. Blechner's interest and involvement in the operation of the Center. We, the staff of the Blechner Center, will continue the legacy of Mr. Blechner to leverage the extensive knowledge developed over the past decade.