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[ISN] Selling Secrecy: Israel Turning The Worldʼs Cyber Problems Into Economic Opportunities


By Vanessa O'Brien
International Business Times
July 19, 2013

TEL AVIV, Israel -- Israel conceals some of its best-kept secrets deep in the inhospitable Negev Desert: its nuclear research center near Dimona, its advanced agricultural research programs, its base for Unit 8200 of the army’s intelligence corps.

Now, the heat-drenched region’s largest city, Beer Sheva, is hoping to turn the world’s need for secrecy into new shekels. The country’s first-ever private cybersecurity incubator is being established in Beer Sheva under a partnership between the Israeli venture capital firm Jerusalem Venture Partners and Ben Gurion University. The incubator is set to open its doors in October in a facility built at a cost of 50 million new shekels (NIS; US$12.5 million) in a new technology park conveniently located near the Israel Defence Force’s likewise new computer technology and intelligence base in the city, which opened for business last week.

The Israeli government estimates that more than 10,000 technology employees will move south to the cybersecurity center, and the Israeli Cabinet this week announced a major additional investment (NIS 500 million, or US $125 million) for economic development, housing, services and infrastructure improvements to accommodate the growth. Jerusalem Venture Partners has meanwhile begun searching for cyber startups to nurture. By 2020, JVP projects a NIS 1.4 to 1.7 billion increase in economic activity in the Negev each year, most of it in the realm of the cyber industry. But those figures, like most cited by the government and its partners regarding the plans for the Negev, are not fully quantified; other economic benefits are typically described as “several billion” or “hundreds of millions,” the proponents being characteristically cagey about disclosing too many details.

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