Left to right: Richard Leipsic, David Asper, Leonard Asper and Gail Asper. (photo from CFHU)
The Canadian Friends of Hebrew University has received $5 million from the Asper Foundation. This gift upholds a tradition of exceptional philanthropic support and collaboration between the Asper Family, based in Winnipeg, Man., and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel (HUJI). It will allow Asper HUJI Innovate to expand its footprint and professional-led startup accelerators to develop significant external partnerships.
The Asper Foundation was founded in 1983 by Israel Asper (1932-2003) and Babs Asper (1933-2011), who believed that philanthropy is a driving force behind positive change in people’s quality of life. It supports major initiatives in the areas of Jewish charity, as well as culture, education, community development and human rights locally, nationally and internationally.
A portion of the recently donated funds will be used to establish an annual Asper Innovation Prize, valued at $35,000 US. The prize will be awarded during a juried competition, intended to encourage and recognize outstanding and promising student-led startups. The public event will also be used to showcase the university as a central force for global innovation within the Jerusalem ecosystem. (Jerusalem is currently ranked sixth in the new Global Startup Ecosystem Report).
“It was the entrepreneurial spirit and wisdom of our late parents, Israel and Babs, that established ties with the Hebrew University close to 60 years ago. We are very proud of our longstanding partnership and connection to innovation that began with the creation of the Asper Centre for Entrepreneurship in the Jerusalem School of Business Administration, in 2001,” said Gail Asper, president of the Asper Foundation. “We are excited to witness, through Asper HUJI Innovate, new generations of students and academics lay the groundwork for advancing ideas, for generations to come.”
The Asper HUJI Innovate platform encourages the entire university community, including students, faculty and alumni, and the Jerusalem community at large to develop their innovation and entrepreneurial capabilities. Established in 2018, it was created as a platform to ensure that graduates are best prepared for the challenges brought about by disruption, inherent in an evolving workplace.
“The HUJI Innovate program is highly prized by the entire university, and the Asper Foundation’s agreement to name and support the centre will surely lead to a great leap forward in the Hebrew University’s entrepreneurial enterprises,” said Prof. Asher Cohen, HU president.
The Hebrew University itself was founded in 1918, and officially opened its doors in 1925. It is ranked internationally among the 100 leading universities in the world, with six campuses, 200 majors and programs, and more than 5,000 courses.
“For over 100 years, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has upheld the vision of its founders, including Albert Einstein, Martin Buber and Sigmund Freud, being at the forefront of creating Israel’s most significant and cutting-edge research, leading to inventions that serve our global community,” said Rami Kleinmann, president and chief executive office of Canadian Friends of Hebrew University, which was founded in 1944 by Canadian philanthropist Allan Bronfman.
CFHU provides support for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to maintain its standing as one of the world’s leading academic research institutions, as well as aid in its continual pursuit to impact real change. CFHU is headquartered in Toronto and has six chapters across Canada, including here in Vancouver.
“This incredible gift will positively impact thousands of students, faculty and alumni,” said Kleinmann, “essentially shifting the course of research and engagement between the university and myriad business communities at large – it is extraordinarily profound.”