UC enters collaboration with Israel’s National Technological Innovation Authority

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The University of California signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel’s National Technological Innovation Authority to expand collaboration between both parties.

The memorandum was signed with the intention of cultivating technological innovation, research and development, according to a UC Office of the President press release.  The agreement further aims to promote projects between the university and Israel’s Innovation Authority that would lead to “commercialization in the global market,” the press release stated.

Part of the agreement involves an increase in bilateral meetings and information sharing between both bodies.

“This agreement aligns with the university’s objectives of steering UC inventions through our labs and into the world economy,” said UCOP spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez in an email. “We believe that this will be a mutually beneficial partnership.”

Vazquez cited the January 2014 UC-Mexico Initiative as an example of the university’s cooperation with other nations and states in a variety of fields. According to Vazquez, the collaboration between the university and Israel’s Innovation Authority is founded on similar principles.

The memorandum between Israel and the university comes almost three years after a similar memorandum between Israel and the state of California, based on collaboration in industrial research and development.

“Developing groundbreaking technologies that can be put to practical use around the world is central to our mission as a public institution,” said UC President Janet Napolitano in the press release.

Joshua Woznica, president of campus organization Bears for Israel, said although the alliance hasn’t been formally discussed within the organization, he approved of it completely. Woznica said the memorandum is a strategic move that will enhance shared values.

“We already start to see a lot of this happening in the private sector. It’s really interesting to see this coming on the university level,” Woznica said. “(The agreement) really speaks well for the University of California.”

In October 2015, more than 200 protesters gathered on Upper Sproul Plaza, addressing both sides of the continuing dispute between Palestine and Israel. Members of pro-Israel groups such as Tikvah and Bears for Israel attended the event, along with members of campus organization Students for Justice in Palestine.

Pro-Israel groups expressed displeasure with the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions, or BDS, movement, while pro-Palestine groups advocated divestment from Israel.

Woznica said although he hopes a similar dispute will not arise because of the university’s partnership with Israel, he believes a conflict is possible.

“It’s just the nature of these things,” Woznica said. “But I hope this will show those who support the BDS movement that this might be a good thing.”

Members of Students for Justice in Palestine could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Vazquez confirmed in an email that both UCOP and the UC Board of Regents do not support divestment from Israel.

Contact Ahna Straube at [email protected].