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ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel will forge a research partnership to collaborate on developing renewable technologies.

A memorandum of understanding to establish the partnership was signed today by U-M Vice President for Research Stephen Forrest and BGU Vice President and Dean for Research and Development Moti Herskowitz. Each university has pledged half of the $1 million that will jumpstart the three-year program. At U-M, the funding is provided by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the U-M Energy Institute.

The partnership aims to bring diverse minds together to progress toward solving major challenges in the areas of advanced vehicle fuels, solar energy and thermoelectric materials, which convert heat to electricity. Beginning this month, collaborative faculty teams can apply for grants to start projects in one of these three areas.

"We live in a global economy," Forrest said. "Universities need to globalize their activities because we need to solve problems that are larger than one country can manage alone. When faculty at universities from across the world come together, they bring different cultures and different objectives, and when you mix them, you get a lot more than just the sum of the parts."

BGU has been at the forefront of the energy research for more than 30 years, Herskowitz said. The university has previously hosted a joint workshop with U-M on renewable energy with an emphasis on solar energy, liquid fuels and thermoelectricity.

"We look forward to collaborating with the U-M researchers on the challenging issues related to renewable energy and trust that the agreed model of collaboration has the potential of generating novel scientific and technological information with potential applications," Herskowitz said.

The program grew out of Forrest's visits to Israel over the past five years. One of his objectives was to examine the country's well-known entrepreneurial culture.

"There's an enormous number of startups that come out of Israel," he said. "We have a lot to learn to from them."

Forrest expects that solar energy researchers from Israel, for example, might approach the problem with more applied perspective than some American researchers, and together, these cultures could make breakthroughs.

Up to six projects will be funded during the first year. An annual technical workshop will showcase the research outcomes.

Globalization of research is a priority at U-M, which also holds research agreements with several Chinese institutions, most notably the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Article topics: Energy


About Michigan Engineering: The University of Michigan College of Engineering is one of the top engineering schools in the country. Eight academic departments are ranked in the nation's top 10 -- some twice for different programs. Its research budget is one of the largest of any public university. Its faculty and students are making a difference at the frontiers of fields as diverse as nanotechnology, sustainability, healthcare, national security and robotics. They are involved in spacecraft missions across the solar system, and have developed partnerships with automotive industry leaders to transform transportation. Its entrepreneurial culture encourages faculty and students alike to move their innovations beyond the laboratory and into the real world to benefit society. Its alumni base of nearly 70,000 spans the globe.

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