Business in Brief: April 13

UK gives Israel Chemicals £15m. grant; Teva reports positive Laquinimod trial; Israel No. 22 in world ICT rankings; TA to host Euro lotteries conference.

UK gives Israel Chemicals £15m. grant
• Globes correspondent
Israel Chemicals Ltd.’s UK unit Cleveland Potash Ltd. has won a £15 million grant from a British government jobs-growth fund for Teeside and the northeast. Cleveland Potash plans to use the grant to begin the world’s first commercial production of polyhalite, a complex mineral that can be crushed for use as an organic fertilizer.
A geologic survey found polyhalite reserves estimated at over a billion tons lying more than 1.5 kilometers offshore in the North Sea, and it will require construction of a plant to process the mineral. The reserves lie beneath potash deposits that are already mined.
“We are pleased that our government and our parent company, Israel Chemicals, recognize that polyhalite represents a truly unique opportunity and are supporting us fully,” Cleveland Potash managing director Graham Clarke said. “Polyhalite has the potential to make a positive impact on world agriculture while safeguarding the long-term future of the Boulby Mine and providing a much-needed boost to the local and regional economy.”
Teva reports positive Laquinimod trial
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Swedish company Active Biotech have published results for their two-year Phase III Allegro clinical trial of Laquinimod, an oral treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. Teva reported that Laquinimod is no longer on “fast-track” US Food and Drug Administration approval because Novartis is already marketing Gilenya, its multiple sclerosis oral treatment. This is likely to add three to six months to the time it will take Teva to obtain FDA approval for Laquinimod. Teva expects the drug to be on the market by late 2012 or early 2013 at the latest.
In the Phase III Allegro clinical trial, Laquinimod showed a statistically significant 23 percent reduction in the annualized multiple sclerosis relapse rate, along with a 36% reduction in the risk of confirmed disability progression, Teva said. The trial also found that treatment with Laquinimod was associated with a significant reduction in brain-tissue loss, with a 33% reduction in progression of brain atrophy.
Israel No. 22 in world ICT rankings
• Nadav Shemer
Israel has risen six places to No. 22 in the World Economic Forum’s annual information and communications technology (ICT) rankings. Sweden and Singapore maintained their positions as the top two countries on the list, which ranks 138 countries by their ability to integrate new technologies according to their regulation and infrastructure and the readiness of their public, business and government sectors to use these technologies.
Dan Katrivas, head of the Manufacturers Association of Israel’s foreign trade department, which represents Israel at the World Economic Forum, said the report demonstrates the superiority of the “Asian tigers” and Scandinavian countries when it comes to ICT. Finland came in third, followed by Switzerland, the United States, Taiwan and Denmark.
Israel, Italy announce cooperation project
• Nadav Shemer
For the first time, Israel and Italy are set to launch a joint body that will bring together dozens of companies from the two countries to further economic cooperation, the Finance Ministry announced Tuesday. Ambassador to Rome Gideon Meir, who was one of the project’s initiators, said the “political mood in Italy, the relations between the two people and between the governments, constitute fertile ground for economic cooperation in all areas.”
Under the new initiative, he said, Israeli companies in fields such as technology, medicine, agriculture and water would be given the chance to further business cooperation with Italy. Behind Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, Italy is Israel’s largest trading partner in Europe (when diamonds are excluded), with bilateral trade reaching almost 4 billion euros in 2010.
TA to host Euro lotteries conference
• Nadav Shemer
Israel has been chosen for the first time to host the biennial European Lottery Conference and Trade Show in 2013, it was announced Tuesday. More than 600 lottery officials from all over Europe are expected to attend the four-day event, which will be held in Tel Aviv. The conference will be organized by Ortra, which beat several other Israeli companies for the right to represent the Israeli bid.
Ortra and the Mifal Hapayis national lottery group hosted a delegation from the European Lotteries and Toto Organization this week, which has looked at possible venues for the 2013 conference. The 2011 EL Conference will be held in Helsinki, Finland, from June 5-9.