Comments of Ambassador Arthur Lenk upon receiving 2013 KEN award for R&D on behalf of Yeda Research and Development Company Ltd. Of the Weuzmann Institute, Protea Hotel, Cape Town, 22 October 2013
Ambassador Boris Cizelj, Chairman of the Knowledge Economy Network,
Mr. Phil Mjwara, Director General of the Department of Science and Technology,
Many people see Israel as the Startup Nation. And it is true – innovation and creativity are hallmarks of Israel. According to the OCED, Israel has the highest R&D intensity, with gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) in excess of 4% of gross domestic product (GDP). The OECD average stands at 2.3%.
Yeda, the transfer technology company of the Weizmann Institute is the cream of Israel’s marriage of academic and technological research. There are dozens of “Weizmann-Inside” products on the market. Total annual royalty-generating sales in 2012: Over $17 Billion.
Over 50 new companies were established around Yeda’s technologies. Yeda owns the largest portfolio of patents in Israel: 560 live patent families, with more than 1,700 patent families filed since 1971.
Chapter 9 of South Africa’s National Development Plan states: “The government must create an investment climate that encourages the private sector to compete locally and internationally with innovative products, services and technologies. The freedom of scientists to investigate and of entrepreneurs to innovate is critical. The government must support collaboration between the business, academic and public sectors”.
I believe that an opportunity exists for knowledge exchange between Israel and South Africa as is done by Israel with nearly every advanced R&D country in the world. I hope to be able to play a role in building this bridge – moving innovation forward for both Israel and South Africa.
Yeda (which means knowledge in Hebrew) has been sharing Israeli knowledge and innovation with the world since the late 1950’s and I am deeply honored to be here to accept this honor on their behalf.
Comments of Ambassador Arthur Lenk at 2013 KEN Conference, Protea Hotel, Cape Town, 23 October 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Israel presents a unique blend of Academic Excellence, Scientific Innovation and Entrepreneurial Experience in basic and applied research through to the various stages of product development.
Israel's seven universities as well as many colleges and government research centers are leading international academic institutions in such areas as computer science and engineering, electronics and the sciences.
The Weizmann institute and Yeda are a perfect model
Weizmann is home of research of two of three current nobel chemistry nobel prize winners: Michael Levitt (born in SA) and Arieh Warshel “for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems”
High-tech prosperity has also been a consequence of successful government policy through a range of R&D incentives administered by the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor.
Israel has the highest R&D intensity, with gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) in excess of 4% of gross domestic product (GDP). The OECD average stands at 2.3%.
Israel is especially strong in the early stage development of new projects and transforming innovative ideas into marketable products. This entrepreneurial spirit encompasses a wide range of advanced technology sectors from biotechnology and medical equipment to electronics and electro-optics, Information Technology and software, communications and Internet applications, aerospace and new materials, safety and security systems. Many commercial developments are spin-offs from the leading edge defense systems developed in Israel.
This is exactly the strength of Yeda. Early stage support for the science and matching with industry. It serves as a unique technology transfer company – taking out 100’s of patents each year. The Weizman institute/Yeda model is patenting research of the institutes scientists who are free from business considerations and able to concentrate on scientific research – Mathematics, Computer Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry
This model has led to products such as
o Cutting edge medicines for the treating of Multiple Sclerosis - COPAXONE, licenced to Teva and Rebif - marketed worldwide by Merck.
o Innovative encryption algorithm being used in 52 million TV set-top box smart-cards in use worldwide; technology bought by Cisco in 2012 for $5 billion
o Game changing imaging such as QuntomiX’s wet SEM technology with applications in applications ranging from biology diagnostics & pharmaceutics, to the food oil and die industries.
Many of the world's largest companies have established R&D centers in Israel including Intel, Samsung, Google, Apple, Microsoft
Facebook VP EMEA Nicola Mendelsohn to President Peres, 15 Oct 2013
"It was a momentous decision for Facebook to open its first R&D center outside the US. We chose Israel in the knowledge that the best talent is found here. Onavo, the Israeli company that we acquired with all its know how in data compression, will help Facebook achieve its vision of linking the largest number of users possible in the world, including, of course, Africa and the Middle East. We are waiting impatiently for the establishment of the Facebook Israel team in the coming months and years."
Establishing scientific contacts with both the United States and Europe, Israel offers a scientific bridge for international cooperation.
MATIMOP is the executive agency of the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Israeli Ministry of Economy, responsible for promoting industrial R&D cooperation between Israeli and foreign companies through partner-matching and access to funding. The Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) is responsible for the development and execution of government policy related to the support of industrial R&D in Israel
In the about to be completed 7th EU Framework Programs, there were hundreds of Israeli participations in various projects, which had a total value of billions of euros. Israel has been the only non-European member of the EU Research and Technological Development Framework Programme (FP) since 1996. Last year, Europe funded nearly 1,500 Israeli researchers working on more than 1,200 projects. This is part of the commitment by Israel's academic and business communities to international cooperation as the best way to achieve social, economic and scientific progress and understanding.
Partnerships with most of the world – EU, China, India, Singapore.
Last night I quoted from South Africa’s National Development Plan. It also states the goal to “Create a common overarching framework to address pressing challenges in the national system of innovation, involving the higher and further education, state-owned enterprises and private industries”.
I believe that there is a significant opportunity for South Africa and for Israel. Israel looks to share its experience in these spheres and offers top level partnership and access to EU and USA.