New index to measure bilateral cooperation

Technion professor: Project shows that cooperation, rather than competition, is the mother of innovation.

By NADAV SHEMER
December 15, 2011 23:24
3 minute read.
Netanyahu and Obama

Netanyahu and Obama 311. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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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.

The annual 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 Chile.

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“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 Israel.

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 exchanges.

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 multinational companies.



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 today.”

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 them.”

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 said.

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 said.

“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.”

Jonathan 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.

“The US-Israel relationship is far too deep, [such] that its overall value will continue to surpass that of other countries.”

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