The “Eureka Program” is the leading industrial research and development (R&D) program in Europe, and the largest of its kind in the entire world. This intergovernmental enterprise was launched in 1985, in a joint declaration by French President Mitterrand and German Chancellor Kohl, in conjunction with the European Commission. Currently 37 nations have attained membership in the program.
Eureka serves as a vehicle for developing innovative products and introducing them to the marketplace. It is funded by national and regional support programs emanating from the participating nations (in Israel, the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry). Membership in Eureka enables countries to forge ties with suppliers and clients, thus developing a “critical mass” to gain access to the European or world market.
The program is highly efficient, operated by a small, professional and independent secretariat that is both attentive to the needs of the industry and open to cooperative initiatives in all realms. As such, they are capable of promoting issues that are determined “in the field” which answer market needs that are identified by the industrialists themselves. Since the program was established, 2,500 projects have been completed within the Eureka framework, involving some 11,000 entities and an investment of 24 billion Euro.
Israel is also a participant in the “Eurostars” program, based upon a cooperative funding system by Eureka and the European Commission.
Israeli industries take part in over 10% of the total projects carried out annually within the framework of the program. Israel’s vantage points, as perceived by their partners, are their scientific and technological excellence, entrepreneurship, innovative models for funding, and openness to international cooperation.
Israel was selected to assume the presidency of the Eureka Program for the working year 2010-2011 (from July 2010 to June 2011). At the end of June, the Conference of Eureka Ministers will be held in Berlin, at which point the presidency will be transferred from Germany to Israel. As the only non-European member of the program, Israel’s selection for presidency constitutes a significant milestone in its relations with European nations and the European Union.