Negev – Making The Future

Innovation flourishes in the Negev Desert

The Negev desert’s forbidding character has been challenged by visionary innovation projects 


The Negev Desert represents 60% of Israel’s landmass but is home to just 8% of the country’s population. And in those lopsided numbers, lies an unprecedented opportunity for growth and development. In recent years the Negev desert has become a “living laboratory,” and many research projects are making the desert bloom in areas such as desert agriculture, solar power and water research

There are a lot of fast-growing research centers in the southern region of Israel. Each one of them is an agent of change fulfilling the vision of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s legendary first prime minister, who envisaged the future of Israel emerging from the Negev. From the depths of the desert, many vibrant, cutting-edge powerhouses have risen; from medicine to the humanities to the natural sciences, these technology villages – which often descend from ancient agricultural communities – conduct groundbreaking research and offer insightful instruction for the world to come.

“The difficult we do first, the impossible takes a little longer” use to say David Ben Gurion.  An almost prophetic aphorism, which nowadays the network of laboratories, power plants, startups, and universities in full development in the middle of the desert is turning into reality.

At Maker Faire Rome 2020 you will be able to explore the Negev desert and get familiar with some of those projects through live sessions which will let you travel across it, accompanied by the words of entrepreneur, professors and researchers that are dramatically change – for the better – the Negev area.

Friday december 11

10.30 (italian time) Kibbutz Sde BokerSpeaker: Yoni Galiziano

The kibbutz (model of Israel’s collective farming community) of Sde Boker is famous as the home of David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister whose home is now a museum open to the public. Sde Boker, is the place where all the history of the development of the Negev began. Sde Boker is located in the center of the Negev Desert in southern Israel,the whole area today is a lush region, scattered with communities and flourishing farms and the kibbutz is a monument to the memory of David Ben Gurion, but especially to the ability of Israel to flourish the desert. Just south of the Sde Boker kibbutz is theBen Gurion University of the Negev, which houses the Jacob Blauestein Institutes for Desert Research(Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands; Water Research; Dryland environmental and Energy Research) complex.

12.00 (italian time) Arava R&D Center I Speaker: Ayalon Gadiel 

Arava is the name of the savanna region of Israel that begins south of the Dead Sea and extends to the Gulf of Eilat, the outlet of Israel on the Red Sea. The “Arava Institute for Environmental Studies” is a leading environmental studies and research institute in the Middle East. It houses accredited academic programs, research centers, and international cooperation initiatives focusing on a range of environmental concerns and challenges. With a student body comprised of Jordanians, Palestinians, Israelis, and participants from around the world, the Arava Institute offers students an exceptional opportunity to learn from leading professionals while forming friendships and developing skills that enable them to lead the region and the world in solving today’s most pressing environmental challenges


Domenica 13 dicembre  

11.00 (italian time): Ashalim solar power plant Speakers: Gil Kroyzer

In the Negev desert, in Ashalim, stands the highest solar tower in the world. Inaugurated in 2018, in Operation since April 2019, it takes advantage of its height to occupy little territory and uses solar thermodynamic technology to produce electricity. Coated in stainless steel, the tower is visible from tens of kilometers away.

The plant occupies one of the four plots of land intended for the project by the government, which in the other three wants to install other facilities for the production and storage of green energy. Together, the plants will constitute Israel’s largest renewable-based project, with a total power of 310 megawatts, bringing the country closer to its goal of generating 10% of electricity from renewable sources.



12.45 (italian time) off-grid Ketora village Speaker:Tareq Abu Hammed

The Off-Grid Technology Village is at the forefront of the use of off-grid products and technologies. The village is located in Kibbutz Ketura, and is a laboratory intended to bring off-grid technologies into developing markets using strategic partnerships in target countries.

The village exhibits different styles of inexpensive and rapid deployed structures that are used for research testing and validation, demonstration, and showcasing of ecosystems and off-grid product solutions for energy, water, and agriculture needs. These products are designed to improve life for underserved populations not connected to their national grids. Similar designs of these structures are common in rural and urban developing regions. The village offers a unique testing and demonstration site to introduce new technologies and prototypes. Local research and small start-up work is tested and presented on an ongoing basis. Current research projects include:

  • Vacuum Tube Solar Oven: A solar oven which uses insulated tubes to absorb the sun’s energy to heat water or food.
  • Solar Cooker: This cooker offers a sustainable alternative to open-fire cooking which has been linked to health issues.
  • Solar Generator: Powerful and compact, this solar generator can supply power for hours and is durable, easy to use and lightweight for portability.
  • Powerpot: As water boils in this pot, phones and other electronic equipment are charged.
  • Off-Grid Alert System: Provides a viable, solar-powered alarm system to prevent animals or equipment looting.
  • HomeBiogas: Household sized biodigester which converts organic waste and animal manure into usable energy for cooking, heating, other household needs.

15.45 (italian time) Wineyards I Prof. Aaron Fait, Ben Gurion University

Like most deserts, the Negev is usually associated with sand, rock and the odd camel. Yet this seemingly dry and arid region in southern Israel is also home to a number of wineries. In recent years, winemakers have created a kind of mini Napa Valley along the slopes of the Negev. There are about 30 varieties of grapes grown in the Negev desert, where the sun beats 300 days a year and where you can reach peaks of 97 degrees a day and reach very low temperatures at night in the winter months. Against climate, Israel is experimenting with viticulture that relies heavily on the most advanced technologies.

Wine-growing is an important factor in the fight against climate change and has been doing so for several years now. We will not enter into the debate about scientific data. We’re in Mitzpe Ramon and we’ve been doing research here for years. And the wineries that have decided to participate in the study looking into the future are already about twenty.

In these parts, in fact, agriculture has been practiced by the Nabataeans, nomadic Arab peoples, since the fourth century BC. Thanks to small stone dams they were the first to bring the lush green to these parts and produce the nectar of Bacchus. And there’s a lot of Italy in this Italian desert. There have been many scientists and owners from France, Italy, Slovenia and other parts of Europe who have come here to understand how crops can adapt to the unpredictability of the climate. This includes Enrico Peterlunger, professor of viticulture at the University of Udine. On the other hand, the project started in 2014 thanks to the Israeli irrigation company Netafim and the support of the Italian and Israeli governments.

17.00 (italian time) JVP CyberLabSpeaker: Gadi Porat 

Margalit Startup City Be’er Sheva aims to identify, nurture, and build the next wave of cybersecurity and big data companies to emerge out of Israel. JVP Cyber Labs operates the first government-backed early-stage incubator focusing on cyber-security and big-data. It is strategically established in the epicenter of Israeli cyber innovation in Beer Sheva – bringing together academia, multinational corporations, and experts with experience from the military’s elite computer units. 

Founded in 1993 under the famed Yozma program by Dr. Erel Margalit, JVP has created and invested in over 150 companies in Israel, the US, and Europe. JVP’s investment strategy is spearheaded by a deep expertise in identifying opportunities from inception and growing them into global industry leaders. 

The Margalit Startup City Model is made up of dynamic creative campuses where our early-stage portfolio companies are provided a suite of customized services, including office space, hands-on management support, strategic guidance as well as access to  expert mentors and  vast network of global strategic partners. The team supporting the Margalit Startup City is composed of experts in the fields of business, technology, and media with years of experience building successful companies. The Margalit Startup Cities have become magnets for hundreds of strategic players visiting each year as well as hundreds of entrepreneurs that are evaluated each year, becoming the gateway to the world. 


Travel to the Negev desert with Maker Faire Rome: online on 

Participation is free.




Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition has been committed since eight editions to make innovation accessible and usable to all, with the aim of not leaving anyone behind. Its blog is always updated and full of opportunities and inspiration for makers, makers, startups, SMEs and all the curious ones who wish to enrich their knowledge and expand their business, in Italy and abroad.

Follow us, subscribe to our newsletter: we promise to let just the right content for you to reach your inbox