'Innovation will dry up by 2020 if we don’t increase R&D'

Chief scientist says “hundreds of projects and initiatives that would make the economy grow cannot get the support they need, and therefore their futures are clouded in doubt.”

By NADAV SHEMER
October 25, 2011 00:04
1 minute read.
Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry Chief Scientist

Avi Hasson 311. (photo credit: Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry)

Israel’s comparative advantage in industrial innovation will dry up in a decade if more money is not put into research and development, Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry Chief Scientist Avi Hasson warned Monday.

“Hundreds of projects and initiatives that would make the economy grow cannot get the support they need, and therefore their futures are clouded in doubt,” he said in a press release.

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“Today we are reaping the fruits of the past, but the statistics teach us that the future does not look so good,” he added.

“Investments made in the year 2020 will not manage to compensate for a lost decade, and Israel will lose its long-term advantage.”

According to Hasson, his office’s budget has dropped by 36.3 percent in real terms over the past decade. Funding for the office now stands at NIS 1.426 billion, well below the NIS 2.244b. it received in 2000.

The Chief Scientist’s Office within the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry is responsible for implementing government policy relating to industrial R&D support.

Its objectives include encouraging entrepreneurs in hitech start-up companies, leveraging Israel’s scientific and technological labor force, and stimulating domestic and international R&D cooperation.



Hasson, who became chief scientist at the beginning of this year, said additional funds would be needed immediately to meet more than 500 R&D funding applications for about NIS 1.7b.

According to the Chief Scientist’s Office, about NIS 450 million is currently lacking from the budget, of which NIS 370m. is from R&D funds and most of the remainder from state-funded incubator programs.

The Chief Scientist’s Office sent letters to 430 companies last month, telling them their applications could not be heard “on account of this year’s reduction in the Chief Scientist’s Office’s R&D support budget.”

The office expects to receive another 100 applications for NIS 400m. in funding by the end of this year.


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