Haifa’s Life Sciences Park is the first business park in Israel built with the sole goal of attracting leading life-science R&D companies.
The South side of Haifa is abuzz with the sound of cranes and the rosy aura of optimism. At the end of 2014 the spectacular gold-capped Sammy Ofer Stadium was inaugurated, placing Haifa at the forefront of the football world and a must-pilgrimage for the Israeli football fan. However, it is across from the stadium that another project is being formed into shape, attracting a completely different type of fan.
Haifa’s Life Sciences Park is the first business park in Israel built with the sole goal of attracting leading life-science R&D companies. The infrastructure of the park was specially designed to cater to the specific needs of the companies that will soon call the park Home. The companies that will be populating the new park are currently undisclosed but they will be amongst the leaders in their respective fields.
Designed by Haifa-born Architect Moshe Tzur, the futuristic complex presents a modernistic vision with 5 inter-connected floor-to-ceiling glass cubes. The complex will also feature ample retail and commercial space as well as one of the biggest cinema complexes in the country.
On the heels of Mount Carmel, overlooking the new park, an entire residential neighborhood is nearing completion. Already sold out, the neighborhood is slated to house the future employees of the Life Sciences Park, as well as employees of the adjacent Matam Hi-Tech Park.
The Park is the brainchild of the IBC – Industrial Buildings Corporation Inc. and the Haifa Economic Corporation, the main branch of the Haifa Municipality responsible for the economic development of the city. It is already radically changing the face of the city and ushering in a new era.
The Haifa Economic Corporation [HEC] was created in 1970 by the Haifa Municipality in order to deliver the development of the city’s assets to professional and skilled hands. Soon after its creation, with the vision of attracting leading tech companies from around the world, it launched the Matam High-Tech Park , Israel’s first ever fully dedicated tech park. In 1974, it landed its first big fish, Intel. Since then it has gradually grown. Today the Park is considered a world-class international technology hub, with some of the world’s leading hi-tech companies maintaining R&D facilities therein. In addition to Intel which has maintained a center there for almost 4 decades, one can see IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Yahoo, Phillips and Qualcomm, to name just a few of the names.
The Corporation’s modus operandi includes investing in the development of areas with industrial potential and establishing the necessary infrastructure to draw top-tier companies. It provides employment for over 10,000 people. It is fully accountable to the Municipality and Mayor Yona Yahav is at the helm of its board of directors.
Gal Peleg, the corporation’s CEO talks about the challenges of attracting international corporations to Haifa and the need for the city to build and promote its brand. “The fierce competition with other high tech parks requires offering a wide range of benefits…It’s not just about a tax break. It’s about being able to put together an attractive offer that takes a prospective corporations’ concerns into account.”
In regard to these concerns, Peleg is undoubtedly referring to the ever-important “bigger picture” that international corporations are seeking prior to relocating or opening R&D centers. “It’s not only the tax incentives we can offer. They are interested in quality of life, the city’s infrastructure, education, cost of living, proximity to transportation routes such as the train etc…” And indeed Haifa boasts significant advantages in comparison with the other parks in the country, especially in terms of quality of life and the significantly lower cost of living than in Tel Aviv and its satellite towns.
The new Life Sciences Park leverages the city’s leading institutions such as the Technion, Haifa University, the Rambam Medical Center, the Rappaport Institute, the Bnei Zion Medical Center, the Carmel Medical Center, and a number of other major international companies, to attract additional international companies who can benefit from the inherent synergies available.
While Matam was dedicated to the high-tech sector, HEC has since invested in a broad range of cutting-edge enterprises that include the Biotech industries, renewable energy, a variety of commercial and business opportunities, high-yield real estate as well as tourism, recreation and sports.
As the saying goes in Haifa, Mayor Yahav is the man with the vision, but it’s the Economic Corporation that does the heavy lifting.