Ninth President of Israel and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shimon Peres is looking out for MENA youth and launching the Israeli Innovation Center
Peres is utilizing innovation as a tool to bring people from around the Middle East together to build peace
Thursday, 21.7, the Ninth President of Israel Shimon Peres launched the establishment of the Israeli Innovation Center together with President Reuven "Ruvi" Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, and leading figures from the Israeli innovation and high-tech industry.
The Israeli Innovation Center, located at the Peres Peace House in Jaffa, will be an educational hub and visitors' center, drawing guests from around the world to learn about Israel's historic achievements, absorb the core values of innovation, optimism and the pursuit of peace, and be inspired and empowered to positively impact their communities and the world.
Ninth President Peres, who heads the Peres Center for Peace and is leading the establishment of the Israeli Innovation Center said: "The Innovation Center that will be established here will showcase our national pride and will advance peace between people. It will highlight inventions already created as well as those yet to be developed in fields such as science, technology, medicine and healthcare, agriculture, and industry. This Center will, of course, showcase achievements of the past, but its primary focus will be on the path to the future .We will prove that innovation has no limits and no barriers. Innovation enables dialogue between nations and between people. It will enable all young people – Jews, Muslims and Christians –to engage in science and technology equally. Here we will emphasize that we can promote peace from childhood, and we will spark the imagination of every boy and girl and enrich their dreams."
Peres shared his perspective based on his personal experiences since the establishment of the State of Israel and its technological development and said: "All my life I have worked to ensure that Israel's future is based on science and technology as well as on an unwavering moral commitment. They called me a dreamer. But today, when I look at Israel, we all can see clearly that the greater the dream, the more spectacular the results. I am proud of our young people. They have created a new reality. They are gifted with independence, creativity, and Israeli chutzpah. They overcame the obstacles along the way and answered every challenge that appeared. Who would have believed that the entire world would one day use Israeli navigation software in their daily lives? Who would have believed that this stubborn and infertile land would produce an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, and that Israel would become self sufficient in water? Who would have believed that millions of people would utilize an Israeli developed stent implanted in damaged heart arteries allowing sick patients to breathe? Who would have predicted that we could give paralyzed individuals the ability to walk through robotic legs that were created in Israel? Our innovative spirit has been recognized the world over, and of course, my heart swells with pride when I see how many nations turn to the tiny State of Israel to learn from our bold innovations, to learn how to turn the impossible into the possible."
President of the State of Israel Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin said: "In Israel in 2016 it is impossible to talk about innovation without mentioning a man who is also a legend, a young man whose trademark is innovation, Shimon Peres, the Ninth President of the State of Israel. Young people want to devour the world. They have big dreams, visions of "Tikkun Olam". As the years pass, they succumb to reality and give up on their lofty dreams. But you, Shimon, are the opposite. You led the way in atomic research in Israel. Since then, your vision has become bolder, more innovative. Every dream that came true was, for you, just one more step toward the next destination. Shimon, in Israel today you are a leader of innovation, and it is impossible not to be envious. At almost 93 you are leading, creating and challenging yourself every year."
Rivlin added: "The Innovation Center inaugurated this morning shall create a link between the past and the future. With one eye, it looks back to the accomplishments we have achieved, with its other eye, it looks ahead to the future, planning its next step. With its one hand it promotes science and technology, with the other, its vision for a model society. This is a winning combination that I am confident will accelerate and motivate continued creativity, innovation and empowerment."
Prime Minister of the State of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu said:
“We will continue to build upon our immense advantages, first and foremost our heritage, which always sought knowledge. We will ensure that our state will be vibrant, progressive, developed, inquisitive, operating in fields that no one has ever before considered, all while we help many people around the world, and we will remain on the cutting edge. Shimon, you have seen the way to get there.”
Peres has always been a dreamer, an optimist. From building the Israeli air force to developing the nuclear reactor, from the Oslo Accords to peace with Jordan and Egypt, he has been at the forefront of Israeli innovation, always in the pursuit of peace. The Israeli Innovation Center is yet another milestone along Peres' lifelong journey. With the goal of opening similar Innovation Centers in countries across the MENA region, Peres is dreaming big, but as he often says, "Our only mistake was not dreaming big enough".
A nation with more startups per capita, where "impossible" is not in the vocabulary, and where organizations like the Peres Center for Peace are ever searching for new avenues to promote peace, Israel has much to share with its neighbors in the region. And this Innovation Center will be the first step on the long path to building a startup region, an innovation region, a region of peace.
The Innovation Center itself will be made up of four floors that tell the story of Israel and its transformation into the Innovation Nation:
This full sensory journey begins at the entrance, where visitors will experience a large, kinetic art exhibit of interactive screens, and will be exposed to Israeli innovations that changed the face of the world. A unique digital library, the only one of its kind in the world, will provide visitors with the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers about Israeli innovations.
The story of Israel as a startup nation will be shared with visitors through exhibits based on cutting edge technology and information sharing, touch tables and an interactive game, illuminating historically significant events such as the Israeli Military Industry, the development of new agricultural methods, launching the first satellite into space, and more.
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Visitors will learn about Israeli innovations that are used around world in fields such as medicine, water, food, agriculture, communication, and more, with a focus on inventions such as cherry tomatoes, Rewalk, Waze, ICQ, drip irrigation, USB flash drives, coronary stents, and more. Visitors will learn about Israeli inventors, the processes that led to their ideas becoming life-changing inventions, all with the goal of developing and enriching the next generation of inventors.
As Israel has been and continues to be a leader in innovation, the Innovation Center will devote a section to contemporary innovation and future technology, showcasing leading Israeli companies. This exhibition will allow every child or tourist to try thinking outside the box and finding creative solutions to the challenges of the future and the problems that lay in store around the world.
Finally, there will be a space for entrepreneurs and developers to meet, take courses, engage in hackathons, and become introduced to leading Israeli innovations that will serve as a tool for training the next generation of Israeli startup leaders. This will be offered in a variety of languages for individuals around the world through a digital platform. With educational components providing every child – Christian, Jewish, and Muslim alike – with the opportunity to learn about technology, persistence, and determination, the Center will fan the spark of creativity and bring each child into the global revolution of innovation, science, and technology. It will offer accelerators, tech hubs and workshops, courses on entrepreneurship, leadership, and the fundamentals for being a part of the tech world, and will teach young people how to reach for their dreams and never give up.
By using technology to build peace and shared-living, for the first time, there will be a safe space for thousands of Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians to innovate —together.
This Center is a deep source of pride for Peres, as he views the sharing of science with Israel's neighbors, the promotion of peace through innovation, as the most imperative initiative today.
At the age of 93, Peres is still looking to the future, and is just now launching the startup of a lifetime, an initiative that will reshape the way peacebuilding is viewed and conducted in the Middle East, a new phase on his lifelong quest for peace – peacebuilding through innovation.