U.S.- Israel Immersion Program Creates Lasting Connections

Rady School Student Trip to Israel

The U.S.- Israel Immersion program, an experience offered by the U.S.- Israel Center on Innovation & Economic Sustainability at the Rady School, provides both Rady and Israeli students from diverse backgrounds the advantage to create cross-cultural networks that can lead to global innovative business developments. In many ways, the bonds the participants construct while immersed with cultures unlike their own also forges ties that both include and exceed the world of business.

In February 2014, a group of 22 Israeli students came to San Diego for eight days with the opportunity to translate the technological advancements they witnessed into innovative projects of their own. The group was given the opportunity to connect with companies such as EvoNexus, NikaWater and GoGreen Agriculture as well as attend events such as the Cross-Border Region Panel. The various technologies and information the students learned about inspired the students to work on collaborative projects with potential real-world impact.

After touring EvoNexus, a high-tech incubator in San Diego, two groups were inspired to take the insights they attained and translated them to much needed technology and business development in Israel. Israel's energy shortage along with their abundance of farms influenced one group's initiative to collect methane gasses emitted from cattle, clean it and convert it to electricity. Another group implemented a plan for their own EvoNexus alternative named IsraNexus, in which they would work as an incubator for small businesses. This program would provide guidance, education and financing for small businesses in order to foster economic growth in Israel's periphery.

The Cross-Border Region Panel, an initiative to bridge social issues with Mexico, inspired another group to conceive their own Cross-Border plan with Israel and Jordan. This would consist of a joint company between both countries in which research and development would take place in Israel while manufacturing took place in Jordan.

Hebrew University student Yos Jacobs was part of the San Diego Immersion program in February and found that it was an inspirational experience that had a profound impact.

"The level of thought that went into planning this program and the quality of its content was clearly visible throughout the entire week,” Jacobs said. "I was exposed to aspiring and successful entrepreneurs of various kinds, leading CEOs, social organizations and more. I also met many new people who are now considered friends and some of us are already discussing various startup ideas. I returned to Israel with a renewed sense of purpose and motivation."

Business aside, the immersion programs provide social opportunities that bridge participants from many walks of life. During the December 2013 trip in which Rady students went to Israel, three cohorts of immersion trip participants networked at a reception, allowing cultural perceptions to be altered and friendships to be established. Two Rady students from this 12-day trip have since expressed interest in helping an Israeli startup access the American market and another student has applied to a job at Israeli-based company, Waze.

The immersion program is really the embodiment of the goals outlined by the Rady School's U.S. - Israel Center: By bridging great minds from various fields of expertise, great innovative developments with global implications can arise from these collaborations between businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers.

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