Despite the high presence of multi-national companies in Israel, analysts at the 17th annual Gartner Regional Conference expressed concern that not enough was being done to encourage local hi-tech talent to stay in the country and foreign corporations to expand their activities here. "We estimate that Israel has lost approximately 4,000 jobs in the last three years from companies leaving Israel and also from missed opportunities to create more jobs," Baruch Gindin, managing director of Gartner Mediterranean operations told The Jerusalem Post at the opening of the conference in Tel Aviv Tuesday. "The leakage of business and brain loss to other countries, along with the shortage of funds, should be a major topic on our leaders' agenda." Gindin said the government needs to solve the problem on a fiscal level by providing tax shelters similar to those in Ireland and Singapore, to attract new companies and encourage existing ones to invest further in Israel. "We found that it's three times cheaper to operate in India or the Eastern Block than in Israel or the US," he added. "So you have to help companies reduce their costs here and the only way to do that is through taxes. By not giving the incentive, we miss out on all the other taxes they would pay." The problem of start-up companies leaving Israel when they reach maturity could be solved in a similar way, he added. Gindin turned to MK Prof. Avishay Braverman, who gave the key note address at the conference, to convey this message to the government. Braverman, meanwhile, expressed a similar concern for an impending brain drain and called for reforms in government structures as a means for effecting sustainable economic growth. "I believe we are at the beginning of a transformation. The entire political structure is ready to collapse," Braverman said. "We need to change the structure, bring credibility to government and then change the allocation of the budget." He added that, since Israel has one of the smallest deficits in the world, it should afford an extra percent in the budget to maintain education and basic socioeconomic needs. Braverman singled out an increase in investments in research and development and the upgrading of low technology facilities as essential means of ensuring growth and preventing brain drain. "My main concern is that many of our brightest young people will take their luggage and move out. Grant it, this is the nature of the game in a global world, but if many of them leave or remain startups without creating companies with value added employment here, we defacto subsidize the rest of the world," he said. "Increasing investment in R&D in the universities and outside will make the difference in how we compete with India and China." Braverman added that with some 90% of the work force not in hi-tech, the next step should be to upgrade traditional industries with new technologies and then with decent wages of management. It was, however, the hi-tech industry which was the focus of attention at the two-day Gartner conference. With approximately 650 business executives registered to attend, the conference explored trends in the sector and the direction technology and its applications will take in the next 10 years from a management, enterprise, communications and investment point of view. Gartner manages its activities for Turkey, Greece and Israel from its Tel Aviv office and conducts research concerning the local "hi-tech road map," which it presents annually to government officials and multi-national corporations.