Danish minister: Great opportunities for learning, collaboration in Israel

“You have a few more Nobel laureates coming out of Israel than we do in Denmark,” Danish Higher Education and Science Minister, Tommy Ahlers, said.

November 23, 2018 08:22
2 minute read.
Danish Minister for Higher Education and Science Tommy Ahlers speaks at the President's Residence du

Danish Minister for Higher Education and Science Tommy Ahlers speaks at the President's Residence during his visit to Israel . (photo credit: YOSSI ZWECKER)


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Israel presents great opportunities for learning and further collaboration for Denmark’s academic institutions and companies, Danish Higher Education and Science Minister Tommy Ahlers told The Jerusalem Post during a four-day visit to the Jewish state this week.

Ahlers, accompanied by seven Danish university presidents, met representatives from Israeli academia, start-ups and incubators, as well as the Innovation Authority, Council for Higher Education and the Science and Technology Ministry.

Israel is further ahead than Denmark in making sure that research carried out at universities actually serves as a foundation for start-ups being built,” Ahlers said, praising Israeli success in the field of technology transfer. “That is one dimension we’d love to learn from Israel.”

While proud of the high level of Danish research, the businessman-turned-politician said that Denmark could still learn from its Israeli research counterparts. “You have a few more Nobel laureates coming out of Israel than we do in Denmark,” he added.

Increased collaboration between Denmark and Israel could benefit from European Union funding. Israel is a full partner in Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation program, which provides a possible funding mechanism for Danish and Israeli research teams should they work together.

Creating such partnerships, Ahlers said, comes down to personal relations fostered by forums and opportunities for Danish researchers to meet Israeli researchers.

“Even though we are two very different countries, both Denmark and Israel are built on strong values and on democratic values,” Ahlers said.

“We can do quite a few things together. You have a long tradition in humanities and in technology, and so do we, and we want to strengthen that even further.”

In 2016, Denmark opened its seventh foreign innovation center in Tel Aviv. The center has a dual purpose, both to establish partnerships with Israeli companies and to generate collaboration in research.

Unlike Denmark’s other innovation centers located in major global cities – including Shanghai, Munich and New Delhi – Tel Aviv does not provide a local market on the same scale.

“That is why the Tel Aviv center is a bit special,” Ahlers said. “Israel is a country only slightly bigger than Denmark. The Tel Aviv center focuses on establishing innovation and research. It is not an extension of a chamber of commerce.”

Ahlers emphasized three different fields in Denmark that have the potential to interest Israeli companies looking for partners: agriculture, life sciences and health data.

“There is now a Danish chief executive of Teva, one of the biggest life science companies, which may even lead to closer ties between our life science industries, including in the field of research,” said Ahlers.
“According to the latest OECD numbers, Denmark is number one by quite a margin in terms of investments in public medical science research relative to GDP.”

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