US expert: ‘Israel is model for the world’

Int'l cooperation in R&D as well as gov't support for scientific education are critical to advance innovation, experts say.

DNA laboratory 311 (photo credit: iStockphoto)
DNA laboratory 311
(photo credit: iStockphoto)
The No. 1 challenge, in both Israel and other countries, is to translate innovative success into development, according to Dr. E. Williams Colglazier, science and technology adviser to the US secretary of state.
“Israel is a world leader and a model not only for small countries but for all countries,” Colglazier said on Thursday.
He spoke at The Chief Scientist’s Annual Conference for Research and Development, held at Airport City.
International cooperation in research and development as well as government support for scientific education are critical to advance innovation, experts agreed on Thursday.
Entrepreneurs and innovators from Israel and around the world agreed that Israel’s path to innovation can serve as a model for other countries.
In recent years, there has been a spread of expertise in science around the world, creating “an era of the globalization of science and technology,” with huge potential for rapid economic growth, Colglazier explained.
To achieve that level of growth, countries need to realize that governmental investment in scientific education is the key to facilitating innovation – something that the US has been doing quite effectively as of late, he continued.
By beginning to “create an innovation ecosystem,” both the US and Israel have been providing more and more research and development opportunities for their scientists, many times through joint programs between the two countries that are a model for growth, according to Colglazier.
“Only by collaborating with other countries” can countries such as the US remain leaders in the propagation of innovation, he said.
“In today’s world collaboration is in many ways the mother of innovation,” agreed Avi Hasson, chief scientist of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry. “If we are in the innovation business, learning and education go hand in hand.”
More than 40 percent of the chief scientist’s budget in the past year was dedicated to international cooperation, Hasson said.
“The understanding that innovation is in the center of economic prosperity... is shared by the entire world,” he said.
In part by focusing on innovation and technological growth for so long, Israel has achieved economic stability that has withstood shaky financial periods on an international level, Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Shalom Simhon said.
“In recent years the Israeli economy has shown great fortitude and growth and this is despite the general crisis in the world,” Simhon said. “The State of Israel is one of the leaders in the world innovation map.”
While Israel is never going to have the innovative production capacity of, say, China or Brazil, it can cooperate with these countries through the 32 partnership programs in the Chief Scientist’s Office, many of which integrate academia and industry, Hasson said.
“We consider this country as a strategic partner,” said Nelson Fujimoto, secretary for innovation at Brazil’s Development, Industry and Foreign Trade Ministry.
The countries have established a Brazil-Israel Cooperation Program, which in two months will receive second calls for technological cooperation proposals, focusing on life science, homeland security and a number of other areas, Fujimoto said.
“Israel is a very small country but is very strong in its innovation system,” he said. Brazil’s investment in research and development has increased almost four times in the past decade, he said.
The European Union’s European Commission, which is on its way to launching its Horizon 2020 economic framework plan for the years 2014 to 2020, is also intent on accelerating its progress with research and development for innovation and likewise sees Israel as a key partner in doing so.
The EU’s three priorities in innovation will be scientific excellence, industrial leadership and social issues, while its most challenging sectors will be health, food security, agriculture, energy, transport, climate, efficient use of raw materials and security, according to Laurent Bochereau, head of the Unit for International Cooperation for Policy Coordination at the European Commission.
“It will be crucial to the success of our program to mobilize cooperation between Europe and other parts of the world,” Bochereau said, noting that Israel has been associated with the commission since 1997.
“I think Israel has understood the whole of research and development as an engine for growth and development,” he said. “You are among the countries that invest the most in research and development. In Europe we are trying to raise this level, so we are very happy to see how things are going in Israel.”