Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) is launching a $1 million venture capital fund to help jump-start innovative student-led technologies and ideas, BGU President Dr. Rivka Carmi announced on Wednesday.

The announcement was made at the SilicoNegevBGU Festival, the biggest entrepreneurship event in the south of Israel, held at BGU May 23.

As part of the initiative, students can take a new course to develop skills in identifying and investing in promising technologies. Graduates will then have the opportunity to join the fund’s investment committee, together with industry leaders and BGU’s management, and become on-campus scouts for innovative technologies.

Current students and recent BGU graduates are able to submit proposals for funding.

The primary purpose of this fund is to serve as an educational tool to encourage innovative ideas in the high-tech and biotech fields and in the social arena, said Dana Gavish Fridman, president of entrepreneurship at BGN Technologies, the tech-transfer company of BGU.

“Leveraging entrepreneurship as an engine for growth at BGU will create a ripple effect in regional and national development, as the university educates Israel’s next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders,” Gavish Fridman added.

Other innovation-focused entities and activities at BGU include initiatives such as the 20-80 student-led entrepreneurship forum at the Faculty of Engineering Sciences; Starter, a cross-faculty student club for promoting entrepreneurship; the Rothschild Cube hub for social entrepreneurship; and Inno-Negev, a technology accelerator.

BGU is also partnered with the Tech7 community, the lobby organization of all startup companies in the Beersheva and Negev region.