Gov’t to open 4 research centers to reverse ‘brain drain'

NIS 1.35 billion project meant to boost country's reputation as research power.

Scientists 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Scientists 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
The government is opening four special research centers next week as part of a NIS 1.35 billion project meant to fight Israel’s “brain drain” and boost the country’s status as a center of research.
The government said in a press release Wednesday that the Israeli Centers of Research Excellence (I-CORE) project was devised because of the need to maintain and boost Israel’s global standing at the forefront of research breakthroughs and keep top researchers in the country.”
They added that they expect a total of 20 such institutions to open across the country in the next five years, including centers focusing on life sciences, humanities, social sciences, medicine, education and law, exact sciences and engineering.
On Tuesday, the first four of these institutions will open, and each will be centered at different universities. These include the Advanced Topics in Computer Science Center at Tel Aviv University, the Advanced Approaches in Cognitive Sciences Center at the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Renewable, Sustainable, and Alternative Sources of Energy Center at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and a center devoted to the study of the molecular medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
One-third of the project’s funding is coming from the government, one-third from participating research institutions and one-third from philanthropic funds, the government said on Thursday.
At the beginning of the 2010 school year, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, chairman of the ICORE Planning and Budgeting Committee, unveiled the plan to build the research centers, as part of the ministry’s multiyear plan for higher education reform.
Ahead of the launch of the first four research institutions, Trajtenberg said the program will “boost Israel’s research capabilities and enable our researchers to continue leading the way to discoveries that will impact the lives of people everywhere.”
The government has stated that one of the central goals of the program is to encourage Israeli academics that have left the country to work or study abroad to return to Israeli research institutions. The directors of the centers will be given a green light to recruit Israeli academics abroad, in order to build up their research teams.
When the project was first announced, Sa’ar called reversing Israel’s “brain-drain” “a national priority that will strengthen Israeli academia.”