October 1, 2013, Updated October 3, 2013

The Li Ka Shing Foundation (LKSF) has given a $130 million grant to the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology to upgrade the home campus in Haifa, for the benefit of its students and researchers.

The generous grant is part of a larger $277 million donation to the Technion that will also see the establishment of a new academic technological institute in China.

The Technion and Shantou University will join forces to set up the Technion Guangdong Institute of Technology (TGIT) which will focus on the fields of engineering, science and life sciences. The People’s Government of Guangdong Province and Shantou Municipal Government have invested $147 million for the construction of the campus and the initial operation of the institute.

Chinese billionaire Li Ka Shing, chairman of the Hutchison Whampoa corporation, is behind the largest ever donation to the Technion and one of the most generous in the history of Israeli higher education.

TGIT will begin offering undergraduate programs in civil and environmental engineering and computer sciences in the 2014 academic year. The establishment of an innovation center, connecting industries in Guangdong with Israel’s technological creativity, will bridge Israeli technology into China and promote joint research and innovation.

Classes at the new Chinese institute will be held in English and its faculty will be recruited from international researchers and scientists in universities around the world. Technion teaching staff will train its Chinese counterparts and help build the curriculum.

The memorandum of understating for the institute’s establishment was signed this week by Technion President Professor Peretz Lavie, Shantou University Provost Professor Gu Peihua, Chinese billionaire Li Ka Shing and Israeli Science Minister Yaakov Peri. It will be submitted to the approval of the Technion and Chinese authorities.

“It was important to them that we would develop the curriculum and that it would be at the same level studied at the Technion today. It’s heartwarming to see that we are viewed as a factor which can create a reform in the higher education system in China,” Lavie said.

“The Chinese admire the Israeli innovation ability, and it is not unintentionally that a technological park for Israeli companies interested in operating in China will be built next to the campus. It will be a sort of little Israel in the heart of China. It will make it easier for the companies to operate in China and will bring some of Israel’s spirit of innovation to China,” Lavie said.

“In this new world of fluid boundaries, the fast changing, fascinating, and transforming power of technology sometime does seem to wave like a magic wand, bringing new models and opportunities to many frontiers and generating new solutions to entrenched problems at a pace that is often hard to keep up with,” said Li at the signing ceremony. “Our responsibility is to invest in reforms in education that unlock that genius and enable the continuing realization of human potential, building a knowledge rich society and securing a sustainable quality of life for all. Failing to do so amounts to a crime against the future.”

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