The cabinet on Sunday decided to increase the Science and Technology Ministry’s budget for its regional research and development centers by NIS 9 million.

This means that the funding has tripled for the eight centers, which are located in the periphery, ranging geographically from Kiryat Shmona and the Golan Heights in the north to the Negev.

A year ago, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz appointed Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron, president of the Open University and a former director-general of his ministry, to look into the issue of funding for the centers and cooperation between them and academia, industry and agriculture development centers.

She and her committee were also asked to investigate the economic and social influences of these centers on the regions where they are located and the commercialization of know-how that they created.

At the meeting, the cabinet decided to endorse Messer- Yaron’s recommendations and change the support model so that it will give incentives for applied research and cooperation with industry. The government also decided that next year, an additional NIS 6 million will be allocated by the Science and Technology Ministry as well as NIS 3 million by the Regional Development Ministry.

Herschkowitz congratulated the government on the decision, noting that the regional R&D centers are the “jewels in the crown” of his office’s work in the periphery. The project has served as a model for those in other countries, and UNESCO even asked to learn about them and copy them for use in developing countries, he said.

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