$$News and Reports$$

Jan. 22, 2014

Left to Right: Dalhousie University President Richard Florizone, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev President Rivka Carmi and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the signing ceremony at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Tuesday.


The presidents of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Dalhousie University of Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Tuesday in the presence of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to create a world class Ocean Studies Centre in Eilat. 

“We see great opportunities stemming from this scientific partnership, both research and technology-wise, between these two universities,” Harper remarked during the signing ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. 

"Seymour Schulich, with his masterful vision and generosity, has been the catalyst for what has the potential to become a world-class ocean research centre for Dalhousie University and Ben-Gurion University. He, along with all the insightful and driving ground work provided by VP Research Martha Crago and the excellent scientific links of Marlon Lewis and other Dalhousie researchers to Israeli researchers, has given us the critical momentum and credibility to advance our partnerships with those universities significantly through the conversations we are having in Israel this week," said Dalhousie President Richard Florizone. 

The centre has the potential to deepen our understanding of marine science and to develop its resources for the benefit of science and industry, BGU President Rivka Carmi said. “The sea covers 70% of the earth’s surface and is essential for our survival. And yet, at the same time, most of it remains unexplored - filled with mystery and unfulfilled potential. We believe this partnership will strengthen the cutting edge science at both universities and place this unique initiative at the forefront of global research.” 

Dalhousie’s Crago and BGU Rector Zvi HaCohen were both present at the signing ceremony. 

The understanding of marine sciences is ever more crucial to the understanding of our global environment.  These sciences are the basis of an ocean knowledge economy and well-founded public policy, governance and security.  They span a number of fields, including marine biology, oceanography, under sea geology, transportation systems, marine law governing sovereignty and the regulation of endangered species, as well as marine security and marine management.  

The city of Eilat, situated on the Red Sea at the southernmost tip of Israel, is home to the Interuniversity Institute in Marine Science (IUI) involving Hebrew University, Haifa University, Tel-Aviv University, Bar Ilan University and BGU.  It is also the location of the National Centre for Mariculture, and a BGU campus, all with researchers dedicated to marine sciences.  These three institutions in Eilat form a striking platform for collaboration and partnership with Dalhousie University. UJA Federation of Greater Toronto has been partnering with the Eilat/Eilot region for over 30 years. Expansion of the Eilat campus has been a key part of its strategy and as a result has been a valuable ally in support of this initiative. 

The different ocean environments of the Red Sea and the North Atlantic provide both complementary and, at the same time, well-aligned settings for major applied and basic scientific discoveries in physical oceanography related to the phenomenon of deep water mixing, deep water corals, underwater natural and animal resources, aquaculture and marine biodiversity, marine animal behaviour as well as marine sovereignty, marine security and transportation.  

Dalhousie University is the leading Canadian ocean research university, situated on the shores of the North Atlantic Ocean.  As one of Canada’s 15 top performing research intensive universities, it has over 100 world famous ocean scientists distributed across a number of faculties and disciplines.  In addition it has close ties through its Halifax Marine Research Institute with five Canadian federal government laboratories and a number of successful ocean technology companies. 

BGU has signed an MOU with Dalhousie University to develop a collaborative partnership that will involve pure and applied joint research projects, co-supervision of doctoral students, industry research internships in both countries, joint field courses in the winter in Eilat and in the summer at Dalhousie University, co-taught courses delivered electronically over long distances, and major international scientific thematic conferences and workshops both in Eilat and Halifax.   

The objective is to develop, through the partnership between Dalhousie University and Ben-Gurion University, and with the other research centers in Eilat, a world-class marine science site with the vision of creating an internationally-recognized Ocean Studies Centre for marine sciences.  This centre will become known as a gathering place for marine scientists from around the world, a generator of basic, applied and industry-partnered scientific advances, and home to an innovative international educational program for the development of highly qualified personnel.  

Canadian philanthropist, Seymour Schulich, has expressed great interest in helping to create such a world-class Ocean Studies Centre in Eilat.  Furthermore, the recent collaborative focus of European Union and Canadian funding on marine science and technology in the Horizon 2020 program will make this partnership especially productive for our two countries.  In addition, the UJA Federation has been a valuable ally in support of this initiative.   

Although focused on marine sciences, this collaboration will also become an important way to develop cultural, socio-historical and political understanding among students and scientists from Canada and Israel, as well as their neighboring countries and those that are further away. 


Left to right: BGU Rector Zvi HaCohen, BGU President Rivka Carmi, Dalhousie President Richard Florizone and Dalhousie VP, Research Martha Crago signing the MoU at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Tuesday.