Netanyahu and Obama 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Israel’s hi-tech industry has always been said to have a special relationship
with the United States, and now an index has been created to measure the exact
level of innovation cooperation between the two countries.
US-Israel Innovation Index was unveiled to reporters in Tel Aviv on Thursday by
the US-Israel Science and Technology Foundation (USISTF). It compares the
innovation relationship between the US and Israel to that of the US and Germany,
Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, Singapore, South Korea, United Arab Emirates and
“The US is still the best example of a country that has managed to
interact with the Israeli ecosystem,” chief scientist Avi Hasson said at the
launch. He added that other countries, such as the UK, are trying to learn from
the American example and see how they can work more effectively with
USISTF executive director Ann Liebschutz said at the launch that
the project’s value would be shown over time. The aim of the project is
to become a valuable tool for US and Israeli policymakers and to act as a
resource for the private sector in helping it know where to make investments and
concentrate business activity.
The index measures collaboration between
the United States and Israel by tracking metrics measuring activities and
relationships in the primary categories of industry and the private sector,
human capital, research and development and government. Each of these four
subjects was then divided into four sub-categories.
As this was the first
year of publication, the index was set at a base score of 100. Israel led its
rivals in three of the four categories. In government, it scored well, because
it led in-country US foreign operations spending, despite low state R&D
expenditure. In industry and the private sector, it led thanks to high
industry-financed R&D expenditure and to the large number of companies in
knowledge-intensive industries that are cross-listed on stock
In the research and development category, Israel ranked behind
Switzerland and Germany. The US-Switzerland relationship outpaced that of the US
and other countries in bilateral flows of R&D expenditure by affiliates of
The US-Germany relationship was strongest when
it came to co-patent applications to the US.
Technion professor Miriam
Erez said the index demonstrated a new belief that cooperation – rather than
competition – is the mother of innovation.
“This brings up the importance
of cooperation between countries on innovation,” she said during a panel
discussion. “Even competitors in the private sector cooperate
Tamar Guy, the executive director of the America Israel Chamber
of Commerce, said the index would quantify the bilateral relationship for US
policymakers, just as the book Start-up Nation
alerted them to the opportunities
of doing business with Israel. Guy said 14 state governors had visited Israel in
the past two years, and “it’s obvious they all seek something that has value for
Dr. Eitan Yudilevich, the executive director of the Israel-US
Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD), predicted
healthcare IT, energy, biofuels and cybersecurity would all be industries in
which Israeli and American companies would strengthen collaboration in the
future. Twenty percent of the grants approved by BIRD to joint Israeli-American
company initiatives last year were in the healthcare IT sector, he
When the panelists were asked whether strengthening the
relationship with the US would harm relations with other countries, Hasson
pointed out that his office has 45 bilateral agreements with countries, states
and cities around the world.
“It’s not a zero-sum game,” he
“It’s not that US-Israeli bilateral activity has dropped, but if we
look at recent years, there has been massive activity vis-à-vis the Far East,
and when I say Far East, I mean mostly with China. Our perspective is global,
and I think that’s one of the advantages of Israeli industry.”
Heimer, the senior commercial office for the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, said there
were around 160 American R&D centers operating in Israel – or roughly 60% of
all R&D centers in the country.
“It will be decades – perhaps never –
before China has so many R&D centers here,” Heimer said.
US-Israel relationship is far too deep, [such] that its overall value will
continue to surpass that of other countries.”