Orna Berry

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Orna Berry
Orna Berry.jpg
Born19 December 1949
OccupationChief Scientist

Orna Berry (Hebrew: ארנה ברי‎; born December 19, 1949), is an Israeli scientist, high-tech entrepreneur, businesswoman,[1] senior executive among the Israeli science and technology industries and laureate of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Award.[2] Orna Berry is recognized for her work in promoting excellence, entrepreneurship, and innovation in Israeli society.[3] She was the first woman to serve as Chief Scientist and head of the industrial R&D operation of the Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour (1996–2000).


Early life[edit]

Orna Berry was born in Jerusalem to Raisa and Yoash Tzidon (Chatto) and was raised and educated in Tel Aviv and France. In 1967, she drafted into the Israeli Air Force, where she served as an officer for the flying school until 1970, terminating her military service as a lieutenant. Her desire to acquire a profession which can be practiced globally, despite being dyslexic, influenced her decision to choose a career in science."[4]

Berry received her MA and BA degrees in Statistics and Mathematics from Tel Aviv University and Haifa University, respectively. In 1979, she joined the University of Southern California (USC) in the United States where she received in 1986 her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Southern California, a fellowship from the RAND Corporation

Research & Development[edit]

Berry's academic research illustrated how distributed simulation programs could be accelerated via asynchronous distributed computations and was published in 1986.[5] Afterwards Berry served at the System Development Corporation, later Burroughs and Unisys. It was here that she began her work in Local area network (LAN). She returned to Israel in 1987 to work for IBM Haifa Research Laboratory where she was involved with hardware simulations on different Intel chip architectures. In 1989, she joined Fibronics and helped lead projects relating to bridging Token Ring and FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface) LANs.

Establishing Ornet Data Communication Technologies Ltd[edit]

During 1993, Berry co-founded "Ornet Data Communication Technologies", which developed scalable and efficient Ethernet switches.[6] While fund raising for Ornet, Berry served as a technical manager of an industrial project at Elbit Systems, and consulted for Intel. In September 1995, Ornet Data Communications Technologies was acquired by Siemens. This was the first acquisition of an Israeli start-up company by a European conglomerate.

Public service[edit]

In late 1996, Berry joined the government. She was officially nominated as the Chief Scientist and Director of the Industrial Research and Development Administration in January 1997. To date she is the first and only woman to hold this post. During her tenure, the budget for Research and Development was the highest in the Israeli history. The knowledge economy, the National Economic Growth and Israel's Competitive Position were well recognized by the Government and the Academia. The overall budget of national and international programs led by the OCS amounted to $450M annually. Ex office, she was also the Chairperson of the Israel-USA Binational Industrial Research and Development BIRD Foundation[7] which helps foster the relationship between US and Israeli startups and other companies and led to Israel's government participation in the EU RTP Framework V, as well as chaired the joints funds with Canada (CIIRDF), UK, South Korea (KORIL) and Singapore (SIIRDF).

Throughout her professional career, Berry took part in other public activities and has participated in various committees such as the Brodet Committee[8] (2007) and the Tishler Committee [9] (2012), which were both founded to examine the Israeli defense budget and its management.

Business Entrepreneurship[edit]

Berry, an academic entrepreneur, is considered as one of Israel's leading business figures[10] since she has been extensively involved in various investments within Israeli high-tech companies and helped to market a number of high-tech Israeli brands around the world.

After returning to the private sector, Berry joined Gemini Israel venture funds Ltd[11] as a Venture Partner in summer 2000. Most notably, she chaired PrimeSense, a Gemini funded start-up which later funded also by Genesis, Canan and Silver Lake Sumeru. PrimeSense was the creator of the sensor technology for Microsoft Xbox Kinect and its 3D capturing technology. During that time Berry also chaired several other companies, including: Lambda Crossing, which was engaged in manufacturing optical components, Riverhead Networks, which was acquired by Cisco in March 2004, the communication company Radware, Admeind an Emblaze Group company, as well as director of "Poalim Capital Markets" and public companies including Aladdin, Alvarion, and Commtouch.

Berry resigned her role as PrimeSense's chairperson on January 2011, when she joined EMC Corporation as Corporate Vice President Innovation, EMC Centers of Excellence and R&D Centers,[12] and General Manager of its Israel Center of Excellence.[13] She remained on PrimeSense's board until the company was acquired by Apple in December 2013.

In late 2006, Berry was elected chairperson of the Israeli Venture Capital Funds Association (IVA), where she served for 3 years until 2009. In 2008, she joined a first of its kind in the world project, established by 40 Israeli high-tech executives to invest in Israeli pre seed startups.

As part of her role in EMC Corporation Berry lead in 2011 the foundation of the company's R&D center in Beer Sheva, of which a year after its establishment doubled its headcount annual target. As the pioneer which signed to join the Beer Sheva high-tech park EMC was also the first company to inhabit the park in July 2013. In 2014 Berry's management responsibilities at EMC were expanded with her appointment as the Corporate Vice President of Growth and Innovation across its Centers of Excellence in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and the Americas. Since the Dell-EMC merger, Dr. Berry served as Vice President Dell EMC General Manager, Israel Center of Excellence,[14] until March 2018.[15] Since then, Dr. Berry has been focusing on various activities and lectures in academic entities, and participated in forums related to security and policy.


Berry's involvement in the academic, public and business sectors are intertwined with volunteer activities which are based on her stated goal to harness information technology (IT) for empowering knowledge and other research areas, and to create social progress and economic growth among the local Israeli community and the international community in the U.S and Europe.

As part of her voluntary act, Berry served as a member of the board of directors of "Kav Mashve Association",[16] a non-profit organization for promoting Arab Academics employment based on their academic background and skills, a member of the board of directors of "BG Negev Technologies", and as a member of the Patent Committee and the Ben Gurion University of the Negev Committee for intellectual property policy determination.

For this contribution, the university bestowed upon Berry its Negev Award "Yekirat HaNegev" for 2012. The grounds for granting letter recognized Berry[17] "for being a breakthrough high tech entrepreneur who excelled at integrating young industry with technology and wisely managed to grow with it..."

Additionally, Berry was involved in various activities ag the European Community in the WIR (Women in Industrial Research)[18] organization of The European Commission, as well as at the EURAB (European Research Advisory Board) Research Council, where she has replaced Professor Ruth Arnon as a member.

The EURAB 2[19] research team members, of which Berry was part of and led some, have conducted and published studies on the expansion of competitiveness and growth as a result of extending the usage of science and technology, as well as intensifying research and development in academia and industry, as promotion generators among the European and Israeli economy.

Berry also participated in the research team of the Association for Computing Machinery, the world's largest educational organization for promoting computing as a science and as a profession. The ACM research work "Job Migration Task Force" published in 2006[20] focused on the globalization effect on the changes in computer science curriculums in the United States and around the world and on expanding women's employment based on professional abilities.

Since the beginning of 2000, Berry has focused on voluntary activities promoting education, employment equality, social inclusion and welfare in Israel and around the world, along with promoting Israel's position in the world. In 2009-2017, Berry was the chairperson of the Israel, Australia, New Zealand and Oceania Chamber of Commerce (IACC) until 2017.[21] In 2010-2017, she served as the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Academic College of Tel-Aviv-Jaffa, a non-profit public institution that concentrates upon the empowerment, social and employment integration of needy children with the potential to excel and leads in its academic achievements. In 2014, Berry joined the IAESI's[22] board of directors.

Awards and honors[edit]

Throughout her life Berry, has been the recipient of various awards. She received the Cyber Protector Award[23] during the Israeli Cyber Week in June 2018 for her exceptional contribution to Cyber Research in Israel. She also received two academic awards in June 2017 recognizing her lifetime pioneering and entrepreneurship activities. The first was an honorary fellowship award from the Academic College of Tel Aviv Yaffo, where Dr. Berry served as Chairman of the Managing Council for 7 years. The award was granted in recognition of her service at the college, as well as for outstanding contributions to technology and information science, entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, for promoting equal opportunity in education and employment, for outstanding contribution to advanced industry in the Negev, for pioneering the success of women and for contribution to the accomplishments and the growth of the Academic College of Tel Aviv Yaffo. At the award ceremony, a video was shown about Dr. Berry's lifetime achievements. The second award was an honorary fellowship award from the IDC, the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. The award was granted in recognition of Dr. Berry’s past and present contribution to the Israeli technology industry, long-term activities in the private and public Israeli sectors for promotion of science and technology in Israel and abroad, assistance in developing the Southern Negev region as a key area for the Israeli hi-tech industry and involvement in promoting women and minorities in society, focusing on the fields of science and technology. In April 2018 Dr. Berry received McGill University's Honorary Degree, which is among McGill University’s highest honors.[24]

including "WITI Hall of fame" award[25] by WITI Women in Technology International which every year recognizes, honors, and promotes the outstanding contributions women make to the scientific and technological communities around the world, and the "Yekirat HaNegev" award by Ben Gurion University on December 26, 2012, which recognized her achievements in the technology industry, as well as her successful entrepreneurship ventures and profound involvement in establishing an EMC R&D branch in the Negev region.[3] She also received the Viterbi Award[26] from the University of Southern California (USC) granted on April 8, 2011 for her the ability to integrate entrepreneurship with professional excellence.

Berry, who is based in Israel, was ranked in 2012 70th on the "100 most influential people in Israel" list of the Israeli financial magazine "The Marker". In 2008, she was ranked 4th in the "most influential women in the Israeli capital market" survey of the Israeli economic news portal "Calcalist", and in 2005 the American technology magazine Red Herring elected Berry as "One of the 25 most influential important women in the technology world for 2005."

Researches and Publications[edit]

Doctoral Dissertation, 1986, "Speeding up distributed simulation"[27]

Women in industrial research: A wake-up call for European industry [28]

EURAB Activity Report 2005 [29]

Personal life[edit]

Berry's mother, Raisa Shrira, was a nurse who served in the Palmach and the camps in Cyprus during the British administration in Israel, as well as in the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer and the public orthodox health care services after the establishment of the state of Israel.

Her father, Yoash Tzidon (Chatto), was involved in Ha'apala activities of Jewish immigration from Egypt and Cyprus to Israel and as a member of the Palmach, he commanded convoys to Jerusalem during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence. Tzidon was amongst the first combat pilots of the Israeli Air Force, served as an Air Force base commander and before being demobilized as a Colonel after 41 years of service, he became the head of the Weapons Systems and Planning in the Air Force. As an entrepreneur and industrialist Tzjdon won the title of "Outstanding Exporter" and later on was elected to the Knesset as a member of Tzomet party.

During her speech at the "Yekirat HaNegev" Award ceremony of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Berry dedicated the award to her parents "my inspiration, who bestowed me with the values of caring and public giving." Her brothers are attorney Ram Tzidon and Professor Daniel (Danny) Tzidon, deputy CEO and head of Capital Markets, Private Banking & Strategy Division at Bank Leumi. Berry, who currently lives in Tel Aviv is the mother of three children whom she defines as "my best partners" and the grandmother of four grandchildren.


  1. ^ Jerusalem Post, Jennifer Friedlin, Woman on a Mission, April 20, 1997
  2. ^ The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev http://in.bgu.ac.il/en/BGU%20and%20You/BGU%20and%20You%20Winter%202013.pdf, Winter 2013
  3. ^ a b "Women in Technology Summit". embassies.gov.il. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  4. ^ Orna Berry. Orna Berry watermark iPhone. Retrieved 2011-09-18.
  5. ^ "Performance Evaluation of the Time Warp Distributed Simulation Mechanism". 1986.
  6. ^ Start-up Nation, The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle, pp.159–161
  7. ^ "What is BIRD". BIRD Foundation. Retrieved 2011-09-18.
  8. ^ Prime Minister Office website: PM Olmert Appoints Brodet Committee to Assess the Defense Budget
  9. ^ Azulai, Yuval (August 19, 2012). "Tishler C'tee: Cut IDF retirement age". Globes. Retrieved 2014-06-19.
  10. ^ "Research and Development – Chief Scientist". Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-18.
  11. ^ Gemini venture capital fund website, http://www.gemini.co.il/
  12. ^ "EMC - Center of Excellence . Israel". israel.emc.com. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  13. ^ Shelah, Shmulik (December 1, 2010). "Orna Berry to head reorganized EMC operations". Globes. Retrieved 2011-09-18.
  14. ^ ""Intel is the best thing that ever happened to Israel" - Globes English". Globes (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  15. ^ "Trailblazer Orna Berry steps down from Dell EMC in Israel". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  16. ^ Kav Mashve Association website, http://www.kavmasvei.org.il/
  17. ^ 2013 Conferment Ceremony of Honorary Doctoral Degrees and The Ben-Gurion Negev Award, Ben Gurion University, December 26, 2013
  18. ^ The European Commission website: Women in Industrial Research (WIR)
  19. ^ The European Commission website: EURAB 2 members
  20. ^ ACM: Globalization and Offshoring of Software A Report of the ACM Job Migration Task Force
  21. ^ The Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce (IACC): September 9, 2009 announcement
  22. ^ The Israel Association of Electronic & Software
  23. ^ דובר, שירי. "מי זכה בתחרות Creator Awards של חברת WeWork?". Globes (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  24. ^ "Introducing McGill's Honorary Degree recipients for Spring Convocation 2018". Newsroom. Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  25. ^ WITI Hall of Fame 2014
  26. ^ USC website: 33rd Viterbi Awards Banquet Honors Three Extraordinary Trojans
  27. ^ Doctoral Dissertation, 1986, "Speeding up distributed simulation"
  28. ^ Women in industrial research: A wake up call for European industry
  29. ^ EURAB Activity Report 2005