“It is in the Negev that Jewish scientific talent
and research ability shall be tested.”
Israel’s First Prime Minister
On May 22, 2001, Israel’s Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, declared the establishment of a National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev (NIBN), with the stated aim of creating an effective applied research platform from which to launch successful biotechnology-based industries in the Negev and Israel.
The NIBN as it stands today is the brainchild of the Late Mr. Edgar de Picciotto who served as the Chairman of Union Bancaire Privée in Geneva and was the driving force behind the establishment of the NIBN. Mr. de Picciotto provided the inspiration, vision, and financial support to establish this innovative scientific research institute.
In 2002, a major step in the evolution of the NIBN took place when businessman and philanthropist, Mr. Morris Kahn, agreed to support the establishment of a research institute focused on the genetic basis of human diseases at BGU. Mr. Kahn had the foresight to place the new Morris Kahn Human Molecular Genetics Laboratory under the umbrella of the reconfigured NIBN.
On November 20, 2005, Israel’s Finance Minister, Ehud Olmert, Mr. de Picciotto, and Ben-Gurion University President, Prof. Avishay Braverman, signed a joint commitment to “support and further promote” the NIBN.
In 2007, the Government confirmed to Mr. de Picciotto that the State of Israel had allocated $30 million to the establishment of the NIBN within Ben-Gurion University. Accordingly, under the tri-party agreement, Ben-Gurion University and Mr. de Picciotto each allocated an additional $30 million, for a total investment of $90 million.
On May 26, 2009, an agreement ratifying the previously declared three-way relationship was signed by Mr. de Picciotto; Mr. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor; Prof. Rivka Carmi, BGU President; and Prof. Braverman, Minister of Minority Affairs (as a witness).
On November 11, 2009, the NIBN was established as a private company, through the tri-lateral agreement between the Israeli government, Mr. de Picciotto, and Ben-Gurion University, opening a new chapter in Israel’s biotechnology industry and the development of the Negev.
Prof. Varda Shoshan-Barmatz, a member of the NIBN and a leading scientist in the Department of Life Sciences at BGU, was the founder of the NIBN and served as its Director from 2006 to 2015. Prof. Shoshan-Barmatz oversaw the development of the institute’s scientific personnel and infrastructure throughout the creation phase of the NIBN and in the subsequent decade. Varda’s outstanding dedication and contribution to the NIBN led the Institute towards the Center of Excellence as it is today. Varda is a key leader in the fields of cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.
Since its establishment as a private company in 2009, the NIBN has become a leading research institute in the Negev and Israel as a whole, with a diverse and innovative applied research portfolio, state-of-the-art resources, including laboratories and specialized equipment, proprietary IP assets, and an established track record of research accomplishments (with over 900 scientific publications), fueled by passionate and creative researchers, and supported by a dedicated management team.