An aerial view of the new GTIIT campus in Shantou, China. An aerial view of the new GTIIT campus in Shantou, China. An aerial view of the new GTIIT campus in Shantou, China. (Photo: Facebook)

Israel and China team up for joint university

After successful collaboration with Cornell, the Technion opens new facility in Asia.

In 2008, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had a vision to transform Roosevelt Island into a high-tech university campus. The result was Cornell Tech, a union between Cornell University and Israel's Technion Institute. The first phase of that campus opened this fall to much fanfare and the school's first graduates have worked with Verizon, Weight Watchers and AOL.

The Cornell collaboration was such a success that the Technion is now doing it again. Yesterday was the grand opening of the Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT) China. The million-square-foot campus includes 13 buildings, 29 classrooms, 14 teaching laboratories and 55 research laboratories. An additional six buildings serve as dormitories for students and faculty. In the next two decades, the campus is expected to expand to include 4 million square feet of space.

Students pose for a photo with philanthropist Li Ka-shing (center), whose foundation helped establish the new university. Students pose for a photo with philanthropist Li Ka-shing (center), whose foundation helped establish the new university. (Photo: Facebook)

While the new university will offer degrees in a wide variety of fields – chemical engineering, physics and biotechnology just to name a few – the main focus of the school will be on issues related to the environment. The events surrounding the inauguration also include a scientific conference with researchers from the Technion and Shantou University, including lectures on marine biology and coastal planning.

If the new school follows the lead of Cornell Tech, students from the Chinese campus will travel to Israel to spend time at the Technion's campus in Haifa. The Technion was recently ranked first worldwide in preparing students for a “digital revolution," in a recent survey published in Times Higher Education. In another new report, the Technion was ranked the No. 14 best school for entrepreneurs.

“China offers the Technion a broad platform to realize its academic excellence," said Li Jiange, the school's chancellor. "We in turn must learn from the Technion and Israel what innovative thinking is.”

Collaboration between China and Israel has picked up at a steady clip in recent years.

Alibaba, the Chinese equivalent of Google and Amazon merged together, announced this fall that they're opening an R&D center in Tel Aviv. Israeli startup CodeMonkey, a game-based-learning platform that enables kids to learn the fundamental principles of computer programming, is now being used in Chinese elementary schools. A 23-year-old Israeli entrepreneur named Raz Gal-Or has become an internet celebrity in China. His younger brother, Amit, is also making a name for himself. He invented a device that extends the shelf life of fruits and vegetables three times longer than normal. He is also based in China, where his product is manufactured.

The late president of Israel, Shimon Peres, was on hand at the new school's groundbreaking in 2015. "The establishment of a Technion campus in China is one more proof that Israeli innovation is breaking down geographic borders," he said at the time. "China is one of Israel’s major partners in technology and high-tech, and both countries have much to share with, and learn from, one another.”

The new campus includes 13 buildings, with plans to double in size in the coming decades. The new campus includes 13 buildings, with plans to double in size in the coming decades. (Photo: Facebook)

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Israel and China team up for joint university
After successful collaboration with Cornell, the Technion opens new facility in Asia.