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Tel Aviv, Tsinghua universities set up $300 mln research center

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Tel Aviv University and Tsinghua University of Beijing will inaugurate on Tuesday a $300 million joint center for innovative research and education to be funded by government and private enterprise.

The XIN center, meaning new in Chinese, will seek to develop solutions for pressing problems in areas such as water, energy, the environment and medicine. It will also focus on fields enjoying growth in both countries, such as nanotechnology.

The center will operate concurrently at both universities and bring together top scientists and students from both campuses. Almost a third of the $300 million has been raised, Tel Aviv University President Joseph Klafter told a news conference on Monday.

Tsinghua President Jining Chen said that while his university has collaborations with many academic institutions around the world, "in terms of innovation this (in Israel) is the leading one".

XIN ventures will be backed, among other sources, by a $16 million fund being set up Israeli investment group Infinity. Investors in the fund will include Chinese industries and alumni of Tsinghua University.

While the XIN center will focus on research and prototypes, Infinity's fund will help in the commercialization stage.

"The center will need support from entities who are experienced in the commercialization of intellectual property and dealing with cross-border enterprises," Infinity managing partner Amir Gal-Or told Reuters.

(Reporting by Tova Cohen)

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