Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, said that “the future of Israel lies in the Negev,” a desert area that comprises 60 percent of the country’s land mass.

So it may come as a surprise that many dedicated Israel supporters have little experience in the Negev region.

That is changing. Having gotten to know Israel through its holy sites in Jerusalem or its beaches in Tel Aviv, more and more Israel lovers are “looking south” to the Negev for a new way to connect to the country.

Founded in 1969 with a unique mission to develop the region, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) is the driving force behind the ecosystem of technology innovation and business collaboration that has been booming in Beer-Sheva over the past few years.

In 2013, Beer-Sheva’s Advanced Technologies Park (ATP) opened just steps away from BGU’s Marcus Family Campus, with the University as a key partner and investor in its establishment. This growing high-tech industry park already has five buildings with 1,500 employees of Israeli startups as well as international corporations such as Oracle, IBM and

Ben-Gurion University students showcase autonomous drones at a tech conference. BGU graduates one-third of Israel’s engineers.

Deutsche Telecom.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. recently announced it is opening an R&D facility in the ATP next year. Rafael will be hiring some of the best and brightest graduates from BGU, which produces a third of Israel’s engineers each year, and the highest number of Israel’s cyber security engineers.

BGU’s Cyber Security Research Center is leading the world in uncovering online vulnerabilities and developing technologies to safeguard Israel and its allies from cyber attacks. That’s why Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called Beer-Sheva the “cyber capital of Israel” and why entrepreneurs refer to the Negev as “Silicon Wadi.”

The Israel Defense Forces understands. The IDF is moving its elite cyber and high-tech units to Beer-Sheva adjacent to the ATP, in order to take advantage of BGU graduates and researchers, and the cyber ecosystem that is blooming in the desert.

Ben-Gurion University graduates one-third of Israel’s engineers.

With the Negev desert as a “living laboratory,” BGU scientists are also making the desert bloom in areas such as desert agriculture and water research.

BGU’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, located at the University’s Sede Boqer Campus, recently partnered with Northwestern University, The Water Council of Milwaukee, as well as the University of Chicago with the goal of developing new technologies.

These are just a few examples of how Israel’s future is being shaped by BGU, the most dynamic and fastest growing research university in the country.

The Negev is the new frontier of 21st century Zionism. Discover how you can connect to Israel in a whole new way through American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.