IDC founder Reichman plans Galilee 'science town'

A new private scientific research institution will soon be established in the Galilee.

uriel reichman 88 (photo credit: )
uriel reichman 88
(photo credit: )
A new private scientific research institution will soon be established in the Galilee, according to plans being developed by Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya president Prof. Uriel Reichman. The institute, expected to cost some $500 million, has already received promises of some $300 million in donations, two-thirds from private sources, and Reichman believes the rest will come as the establishment of the institute moves closer toward being a reality. According to the plans, Reichman told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, the institute will deal with "the avant-garde, the most difficult problems facing modern civilization, those that have a chance for a scientific breakthrough." In particular, it will focus on research into biomedicine - which Reichman said he thinks "will define the science of the coming century" - the biotechnology of plants, developing medications, water and energy. The new college, which will be established "as a project of the IDC," will include a medical school, allowing more direct application of research into the medical field. The site will be converted into a veritable town, Reichman enthused. Beyond offering scientists high salaries and research funds to attract the best from around the world, the center will offer a high quality of life. For example, plans include cultural facilities on institute grounds. Reichman describes the planning with enthusiasm, but grows bitter when asked about the timetable of the venture. "As always, the only problem is the Israeli government," he says. "We need to get the land, which, like all land in Israel, is state land. We need to have managerial independence in the institute, perhaps by establishing it as a private corporation. We need accreditation from the Council for Higher Education. And we need infrastructure built up to the location, though not inside it. Everything else can be solved by private funds." But, he complains, "in the seven months since I was asked [by Vice Premier Shimon Peres] to take this on, the state has been unable to make decisions on the land and on the rest. It's stuck." Asked to elaborate, Reichman explained that "the prime minister appointed a committee of ministry directors-general, and they're still checking all sorts of issues...We still don't know what the Israel Lands Authority thinks. We know there are problems with the Council for Higher Education." As months go by without result, he says, "it will be hard to hold the goodwill of donors." Nevertheless, Reichman remains optimistic. "The idea is wonderful and everybody supports it...It's stuck solely because of Israeli bureaucracy."