UK-ISRAEL projects tackle major global diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and cardiovascular disease. (Illustrative.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
If you want to see science and innovation’s role as an engine of the economy there are few better places to come than Israel. It’s brilliant, edgy and exciting.
And as a global science leader and one of the world’s most innovative countries, this is something that the UK shares.
But science and innovation have ceased being a purely national endeavor. International collaboration has become increasingly important and the UK’s scientific cooperation with Israel and the wider world carries increasing weight in international relations.
Together with the natural affinities of their science and innovation base, this is why UK-Israel collaboration is so valuable. The success of UK and Israeli researchers and innovators in collaborating with partners around the world will have a material impact on both countries’ futures. Success here helps drive mutual prosperity and, even more fundamentally, solutions to societal challenges that have global implications – from heart disease to antimicrobial resistance and from water security to diabetes. More obliquely, it also helps foster greater understanding and builds friendly relations between different cultures – something needed more than ever in our complex world.
There’s already a huge amount going on. The UK is a leading partner of the Israeli scientific community – last year nearly 1,500 scientific publications included a UK and Israeli researcher.
Just one project, BIRAX, an initiative of the British Council and British Embassy in Israel in collaboration with the Pears Foundation and the UJIA and numerous partners, has involved more than 1,000 scientists from 120 institutions and invested £7 million over the last five years in 15 collaborative UK-Israel projects tackling major global diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and cardiovascular disease.
Over the next year we will facilitate several hundred UK-Israel academic exchanges through a variety of symposia, fellowships and mobility projects to grow further collaboration.
Given its centrality, it is important for this collaboration to grow further. This is still the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can and should be done.
“Can be done,” because of the powerful science and innovation systems that the UK and Israel have to share; “should be done” because few can doubt that there remain important global challenges and corresponding collective endeavors that can be undertaken to tackle them.
A thriving UK-Israel partnership in science supports a triple bottom-line, a partnership that: is at the forefront of these global collective endeavors; supports the development of both countries critical science and innovation sectors; and strengthens the broader UK-Israel relationship. The more of all of these things the better.The writer is the director of the British Council in Israel.