In an effort to increase work force participation, as well as the number of research and development companies operating in the country's periphery, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai on Sunday introduced a committee charged with forming recommendations on how best these goals can be achieved. In addition, the panel will explore methods on how best to advance companies that operate in Israel's "traditional" industries, such as metal-works, textiles and electrical components, which have been overshadowed by the rise of Israel's hi-tech sector. "We are looking to close the gaps between companies that are based in the middle of the country and those in outlying areas, as well as increasing the numbers of skilled workers in those peripheral areas, in addition to advancing the output of our traditional manufacturers," said Yishai. The committee, which was expected to formulate concrete recommendations within the next three months, will be chaired by Israel Makov, the former CEO of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., and include industry leaders, academics and government officials. Among the committee's stated objectives is the proposal of solutions on advancing the level of investment in "traditional" industry, to oversee the cooperation of various governmental offices and research institutes in advancing periphery-based biotechnology and diversified energy companies and to provide guidance to increase the number of research and development companies in the country's outlying areas.