R&D in Israel is carried out primarily at seven universities, dozens of government and public research institutes, and hundreds of civilian and military enterprises. Significant research is also performed at medical centers and by a number of public service firms, in fields such as telecommunications, power production, and water resources management.
Government and public bodies are primary sources of R&D funding, providing financial support for well over half of Israel’s R&D activities. The major share of these funds for civilian R&D purposes is allocated for economic development, mainly in the industrial and agricultural sectors, which, in comparison with other countries, constitutes a very large part of the total. Over 40 percent is used to advance knowledge through national, binational, and government research funds and through individual university allocations from the General University Fund administered by the Council of Higher Education. The remainder is dedicated to various health and social welfare fields.
Photos: I. Stzulman
Over 80 percent of all publishable Israeli research - and almost all basic research and basic research training - is conducted within the universities. The Israel Science Foundation (ISF), a legally independent body, is the predominant source of competitive basic research funding. Some 1,000 individual researchers receive grants from ISF, matched with university funding. ISF also funds special programs, such as Israel’s participation in building the ATLAS detector for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and improving the quality of clinical research via an innovative series of ‘physician-researcher’ grants.
To fund and coordinate research initiatives too large for any one agency to handle, there is TELEM, a voluntary forum composed of the chief scientists of the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor and the Ministry of Science, the president of the Israel Academy, and representatives of the Council for Higher Education, the Treasury, and others. TELEM engineered, and where necessary funded, Israel’s entry into the European Union’s Framework Program, membership in the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and Israel's Internet II initiative.
The large number of patents taken out by Israel’s universities is one measure of the effectiveness of the relationship between the universities and industry.