By Arlene Marom
International Activities that foster Tech Development in Israel
Through its wide-ranging international activities, the OCS has made a significant contribution over the years to the ongoing success of Israel’s Silicon Wadi.
The Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) – part of Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor – promotes innovation and entrepreneurship in order to spur the country’s economic growth. Leveraging the country’s extensive human resources in the areas of science and technology – as well as its well-developed academic and technological infrastructure – the OCS has had a powerful impact on Israel’s global competitive advantage. Among its mandates, the OCS is tasked with encouraging and supporting industrial R&D cooperation between Israel and other countries. This international cooperation includes providing access to know-how and technologies, as well as to new markets. As a result of its free trade agreements -NAFTA (US, Canada and Mexico), the EU and others -Israel is able to act as a trade bridge for companies wishing to expand their activities to North America and Europe.
Within the framework of the Bi-National Fund initiatives, two countries contribute a pre-determined amount to a bi-national foundation for cooperative projects. The governments appoint a board of directors, and establish criteria and procedures. In addition to financial support, they locate business partners in both countries for collaboration in technology development projects. A non-profit organization manages the funds and administers the grant payments, without intervening in the relationships between the partnering companies. These foundations do not receive equity or intellectual property rights in the companies.
BIRD (Bi-national Industrial R&D) Foundation
BIRD brings together promising Israeli companies with medium-to-large US counterparts, focusing on emerging industries and innovative technologies. An Israeli and an American company join forces to combine their capabilities to develop, manufacture, market, sell and support an R&D-based product. Typically, the Israeli company develops the cutting-edge technologies, while the American company provides product development and commercialization. The Foundation funds up to 50% of each company’s R&D expenses, with repayment due only if commercial revenues result from the project; no repayments are required if a project fails. BIRD’s scope covers communications, life sciences, electronics, software and other high tech sectors – with homeland security, renewable energy, water technology and nanotechnology of special interest. Since its establishment over 30 years ago, BIRD has funded over 800 projects, reaching total product sales of over $4billion. BIRD also manages TRIDE – a Tri-national Fund based on Israeli, Jordanian and US cooperation.
CIIRDF -Canada Industrial R&D Foundation
The Canada-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (CIIRDF) promotes collaborative R&D between Canada and Israel – and is responsible for the implementation of the Ontario agreement, focused on health and cleantech. Support can reach a maximum of 50% of the R&D costs up to C$800,000. If the project generates revenues, the two companies need only repay the interest-free nominal grant, based on royalties.
The Korea-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (KORIL-RDF)
The Korea-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (KORIL-RDF) promotes industrial R&D joint ventures between Israel and Korea, funding up to 50% of the costs up to $500,000.To date, KORIL-RDF has approved over 100 projects, totaling over US$ 30 million.
The Singapore – Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (SIIRD)
The Singapore – Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (SIIRD) promotes industrial R&D between Singapore and Israel, funding up to 50% of costs, up to $750,000. SIIRD has, to date, approved some 90joint projects with a total budget of over $100 million.
Bi-National and Multinational Agreements
MATIMOP – Israel Industry Center for R&D
MATIMOP is a non-profit governmental organization that promotes the development of advanced technologies in Israel – as well as international partnerships. Acting on behalf of the OCS, MATIMOP encourages the participation of Israeli companies in bilateral and multilateral cooperation programs, and is in constant contact with most Israeli high-tech companies, maintaining a large database: www.matimop.org.il/newrdinf/company/compsrc.htm
EU Framework Programs for R&D
Israel is the only non-European country to fully participate in the European Union’s Framework Program (FP), which provides funding for health, food, agriculture and biotechnology, information and communication technologies, nano-sciences and nanotechnologies, energy, environment and climate change, transport and aeronautics, socio-economic sciences and the humanities, space and security.
EUREKA is an initiative of ±40 European governments (including Israel) tasked with creating a pan-European network for market-oriented, industrial R&D. It is the largest European platform for industrial innovation projects funded through national and regional schemes. Over 40% of project participants are small and medium enterprises. EUREKA’s cluster projects are initiated by major companies, mostly in ICT fields. Israeli companies participate in more than 10% of all EUREKA projects and in more than 20% of all EUREKA cluster projects, and Israel chaired the EUREKA Program in 2010-2011. MATIMOP is Israel’s National Coordinator for EUREKA.
Eurostars is the first European program specifically dedicated to SMEs and startups. Projects, which can focus on any technology area, involve at least two participants from two countries, are market-driven, have a civilian purpose, and aim to develop a new product, process or service. Eurostars is jointly operated by the EUREKA network and the European Commission, with projects funded via national funding schemes.
Galileo and SESAR
Galileo is the European program for the development of a global satellite navigation system comprised of 30 satellites and ±50 ground stations. Managed by the European Commission and the European Space Agency, Israel and China are the only non- European full members in the program. MATIMOP facilitates Israel’s participation and is a member in the Galileo Joint Undertaking. SESAR (the Single European Sky ATM Research Program) defines, supports, and implements the Single European Sky legislation. MATIMOP facilitates the Israeli participation in SESAR.
Enterprise Europe Network (EEN)
MATIMOP is also the coordinator of the Enterprise Europe Network center in Israel. The EEN, made up of ±600 organizations in +40countries, promotes competitiveness and innovation at the local level. The Israel branch provides services offered by the Israeli Innovation Relay Centers (IRC), including publication of technology offers and requests, and location of partners for technological cooperation abroad.
The Israel-Europe R&D Directorate for the Framework Program promotes joint Israeli-EU R&D ventures within the EU’s R&D Framework Program. ISERD assists in preparing and submitting proposals; helps identify partners and opportunities; offers assistance, training and support; disseminates information and raises awareness in Israel; organizes events; represents Israel in the Framework Program’s management committees at the European Commission; and promotes Israeli interests in key organizations, such as research institutions and universities. Over 2000 Israeli companies participated in the 4th, 5th and 6th Framework Programs; the current Program, FP7, began in 2007 and will extend to 2013, with a total budget of € 50billion.
US – Israel Science & Technology Commission
This initiative promotes bi-national cooperation at the highest levels of government and industry in the US and Israel. Together with the US-Israel Science and Technology Foundation, the Commission focuses on life sciences, homeland security and renewable energy, and builds the infrastructure for economic and technological cooperation.
The Global Enterprise R&D Cooperation Framework
The Global Enterprise R&D Cooperation Framework, established by the OCS, encourages multinationals to create alliances with Israeli start-ups, based on strategic cooperation agreements between Israel and multinationals such as Alcatel, IBM, Intel, HP, Coca Cola and General Electric. (See the next article in this series for more details, including the programs developed by specific multinationals for Israeli startups.)
The Project Center for Multinational Companies
The Project Center for Multinational Companies encourages the establishment of “Project Centers” in Israel — Israeli companies, wholly owned by the multinational company, that function as the representative of the multinational company in Israel. These centers create R&D collaborations between Israeli partners and the multinational, implement R&D projects, and provide financial and professional assistance.
Program to Encourage the Establishment of R&D Centers in Israel for the Service of the International Financial Community
The OCS fosters the creation of growth engines in various sectors of the economy, including software, communications, life sciences, traditional industries, renewable energy sources and water technologies. The objective is to encourage multinational financial institutions to establish R&D centers in Israel that will service the international financial community.
About Arlene Marom
Prior to moving to Israel, Ms. Arlene Marom was the Managing Editor of two publications in Florida in the field of construction – The Florida Contractor & Builder and The Pan American Trader. Ms. Marom also worked as Medical Librarian at Mount Sinai Medical Center and the Papanicolaou Cancer Research Institute. Since 1995, she has been involved with high tech startups in Israel’s Silicon Wadi, beginning with PowerDsine, which became Microsemi Israel. She works with clients on business development projects – identifying and approaching potential customers and partners – as well as creating sophisticated original marketing and business materials. She was selected as the Israel representative of DEMO Germany, introducing DEMO (the launchpad for global startups) to the Israeli high tech community, and bringing to Munich 9 of the 20 companies chosen from across Europe and Israel to present at the event.In 2008, she established the IsraelStartupNetwork, assisting startups by organizing events and providing ongoing updates about opportunities, including matchmaking between startups and requests from investors, distributors, etc. Ms. Marom represents Sramana Mitra’s 1M/1M program in Israel, organizing pitchfests for ISN members, with sponsors providing winners with scholarships to the program. Ms. Marom has a BA Cum Laude in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy from the University of Miami, MS in Library and Information Science from FSU, and Certification as a Medical Librarian from Emory University.
Follow her on twitter:@arlenemarom