Israel has said that food technologies, renewable energy and space technologies are among the five national priorities, which will receive significant investment over the next five years.
This list of national priorities will direct government funding to civilian research and development (R&D) enterprises in priority areas.
The list of priority areas was presented earlier this month by Innovation, Science and Technology Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen to the Knesset’s Ministerial Committee for Science and Technology. The Israeli National Council for Research and Development of the Ministry made a presentation on the decision-making process.
Fourteen areas were selected by the board, the top five being food technology, renewable energy and energy storage, bioconvergence (technologies applied in fields of biology combined with engineering such as electronics, computational biology, physics, nanotechnology and materials science), civil space technology and “bluetech”, which uses the sea as a resource.
The detailed list includes smart cities, education technology, waste management and circular economy, and semiconductors.
These new priorities join those already declared national R&D priorities: artificial intelligence, data science and quantum computing.
The selection criteria for these priority areas, defined by the Council, consisted of assessing factors such as Israel’s comparative advantages, its strategic needs, its strength in R&D, its role as a global center of innovation, the degree of need for government support and scientific component.
The Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology will promote national programs in these priority areas and distribute some 180 million shekels each year in research grants.
Hilla Haddad Chmelnik, director-general of the ministry, said in a statement: “Israel’s scientific and technological leadership is essential for its resilience: it is essential to maintain and even strengthen it. Mapping and defining national priority areas, based on an understanding of the international scene and local scientific assets, is essential to strengthening the different sectors of the economy that rely on innovation and cutting-edge technologies. »
Haddad Chmelnik added that the list “will serve as the basis for the ministry’s policies and work for years to come, and will inform all relevant government agencies”.
Professor Peretz Lavie, chairman of the National Council for Research and Development, said “the five areas recommended by the committee are important in terms of global competition and the advancement of Israel’s cutting-edge technologies, in order to secure its economic future. and maintain its scientific excellence over the next five years”.
Most of the selected fields, multidisciplinary, are expected to grow rapidly in the coming years, explained Mr. Lavie.
He explained that the council’s study took into account the results of studies of countries that already had national R&D priorities, finding that these investments “have boosted jobs and quality of life, and generated a surplus of growth. “.
This is notably the case of Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.
“Israel, which depends on its human resources and knowledge in high-tech fields, risks losing its comparative advantage in technological fields if it forgoes such investments,” Lavie warned.
Minister Hacohen said she would adopt the list of priority R&D areas defined by the council in order to “ensure Israel’s scientific and technological leadership for years to come”.
Food technology, a national priority
Israel has already invested in some of these priority areas.
Last year, the Israel Innovation Authority raised $69 million for four consortia – groups of industrial companies and research institutions for the joint development of technologies – in the fields of cultured meat (subsector key to food technology), insect rearing, fluid sampling for medical diagnostics, and human-robot interface (HRI), a multidisciplinary field that studies the interactions between humans and robots.
Cultured Meat Consortium activity began in April. It includes 14 companies, including leading food tech startups, and 10 universities and research institutes.
These funds will not be immediate.
The recognition of the priority of food technologies, and in particular alternative proteins, “positions the sector as a key engine of growth for Israel,” says Alla Voldman-Rentzer, vice president of strategy and policy at the Good Food Institute. (GFI) Israel, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting research and innovation in food technology.
The Alternative Proteins segment includes plant-based meat, dairy and egg substitutes, cultured dairy, cell-based meats and seafood, and various fermentation processes and products. The activity of startups specializing in cultured proteins and fermentation technologies is often linked.
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