Living Lab - Be'er Sheva

Living Lab

Imagine buildings draped in moss, water droplets being harvested from the air, edible hay growing along the walkways. Sound intriguing? Well, it may not be that far-fetched. A potential central feature of the World Zionist Village is the possibility of creating a Living Lab and Innovation Center that will permeate the campus. The open areas, walls, roof-tops and facilities of the campus can house a wide range of innovations from the south of Israel and Be’er Sheva in particular. The WZV will be an oasis for smart living in the desert creating an attractive and engaging environment for research, education, and business development for the Ag-Tech, Clima-tech and Food-tech community. The Living Lab will also be used for piloting and refining innovations in clean energy, sustainability, environmental conservation, and food security to serve as a global platform for solutions and implementation.

As part of the Stakeholders Mission, we held a Demo Day, allowing dozens of Israeli start-ups and companies to showcase their innovations to demonstrate how they would participate in the future Living Lab. Sam Goldberg, a member of the National Board and the JNF-USA Impact Fund Committee who has been involved in developing the Living Lab for the WZV commented on the Demo Day: “Had this been Silicon Valley or Tel Aviv, this would have passed as a regular day,” he  said. “But this was in the Negev, and these under-served entrepreneurs exhibited a pioneering resolve as if to say the problems we are solving are global in nature, and our life in the Negev has given us a unique perspective on how to deliver the solution.”

The WZV Living Lab will provide an opportunity for partnerships with leading Israeli and world-wide corporations, incubators, NGOs, and entrepreneurs. These “Innovation Partners” as we are calling them, will install and manage the Living Lab display and have access to the WZV conference and exhibition facilities as well as a guest house and dining facilities to host large or small meetings and seminars. In addition, the Village’s dynamic educational programing will integrate the Living Lab into the curricula of high school and adult participants so they can understand how agriculture and technology help advance Zionism.

“We see great importance in the JNF-USA’s plans to create a living lab in Be’er Sheva, that would be used by climate entrepreneurs throughout the region,” said Nicole Hod Stroh, executive director of Merage Foundation Israel, bringing various DesertTech start ups to the Village table. “This is a much-needed addition to boost the Negev’s offering as a global focal point for DeserTech and climate innovation. As climate change affects more and more countries, desert-related technologies become relevant and even critical for many countries in the world, especially in the Us, and the new living lab will allow the thriving ecosystem to widely accelerate this activity that comes out of the Israeli Negev.

A growing list of Innovation Partners for the Living Lab at the WZV include NETAFIM, ESIL (a joint-venture of two leading energy companies in Israel – Bazan and EDF-Renewables Israel, Desertech, DriftSense, GG Biologicals, BioShade, BeAir, Coppter, Dustoss, FungitbioSoltions, Laguna Innovation, The Sustainable Group, Ramon AgTech, Sphere, SoliDrip, Bloom, Gencell, Groundwork BioAg, Growee, Brevel, and Soltrex.

Said Sam: “The WZV Living Lab is injecting a spirit of Zionism and new hope to these entrepreneurs that their efforts are not only recognized, but they also given the resources to be transformative to the world.”

It was a remarkable demonstration both of the innovation that is currently ongoing in the Negev and the opportunity for the WZV to be a magnet for these initiatives as well as a destination for people to learn more about these remarkable technologies.