In the industrial sector, civilian expenditure on
R&D and the number of scientists and engineers engaged in industrial
R&D have grown abundantly over the past two decades.
Israel's industrial R&D, with a high concentration on
electronics, is mainly carried out in a small number of large firms.
These R&D-intensive companies have been a major source of industrial
employment and exports over the years.
Fostering the growth of such enterprises, both large and small, is
the focus of Israel’s industrial strategy. The government promotes
R&D in industry within the framework of the Law for the Encouragement of Research and Development, implemented
by the Chief Scientist’s Office of the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and
Labor which in 2000 funded some 1,200 projects. R&D-related
products comprise more then half of total industrial exports (excluding
Electronics, limited until the late 1960s mainly to consumer
goods, has branched out into more sophisticated technological
developments, both military and civilian.
In communications, R&D-based applications include the
digitalizing, processing, transmitting, and enhancing of images, speech,
and data. Products range from advanced telephone exchanges to voice
messaging systems, telephone line doublers, and a vast array of Internet
Optics, electro-optics, and lasers have been growing rapidly
as industrial fields. Israel is a world leader in fiber-optics,
electro-optic inspection systems for printed circuit boards, thermal
imaging night-vision systems, and electro-optics-based robotic
Computer-based equipment, mostly in software and peripheral
fields, has been developed and produced. In printing and publishing,
Israeli-made computer graphics and computer-based imaging systems are
widely used locally and abroad. Activities in schools are enhanced by a
variety of computer-aided instructional systems, many of which have been
developed for export. While some of Israel’s software products are
designed for use on mainframe computers, most have been developed for
small or medium-sized systems such as computer workstations. A computer
mouse with three touch-pads, allowing the visually impaired to “read”
text and graphics on screen, was developed in Israel.
Robotics, first researched in the late 1970s, is now producing
robots designed to perform a wide variety of tasks, including diamond
polishing, welding, packing, building, and more. Research is now under
way in the application of artificial intelligence to robots.