In recent years the Government of Israel has signed technological and industrial collaboration agreements with numerous foreign governments. The purpose of these alliances is to leverage the knowledge and the technological and industrial capabilities of local companies, to create fertile ground for the development of new technologies and products, building upon the technological and engineering know-how of the partners, and to leverage the marketing of the developed products.
In principle, only projects developed jointly by Israeli companies and companies from the relevant country are eligible to receive funds from the aforementioned sources.
In international alliances of this kind, the partners share the investment in product development as well as the risks resulting from the development and application of innovative technologies. These partners include the companies involved in the joint ventures and the R&D financing bodies in the relevant countries.
Bi-national funds are established by two governments which contribute a pre-determined sum, intended to support and encourage cooperative projects, and to augment the
technological know-how in the participating countries. Such funds are not subjected to restrictions imposed by the Law for the Encouragement of Industrial R&D – 1984. The objectives of individual funds, their criteria and procedures, and their budgets vary from one fund to another. Bi-national funds offer conditional grants for joint development projects on a risk-sharing basis. The funds finance up to 50% of each company’s R&D expenses associated with the joint project. Repayments are due only if commercial revenues are generated as a direct result of the project. If a project fails, the funds claim no repayments. Currently active bi-national funds include the BIRD Foundation (USA), the BRITECH Foundation (Great Britain), the CIIRDF Foundation (Canada), the KORIL Foundation (South Korea), and the SIIRD Foundation (Singapore).
Parallel funding agreements:
The Government of Israel has signed technological collaboration agreements with many countries, including Australia, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong-Kong, India, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden and USA. The agreements guarantee governmental participation in financing of joint technological R&D projects. In Israel, the financing is provided by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, whose Research Committee reviews and approves the R&D proposals. Implementation of the committee’s decisions, performance tracking
and control are carried out by the OCS.
Multinational funding agreements:
Israel is an associate member of the 7th Framework Program (FP7) of the European Union. The FP was established to encourage scientific and technological
cooperation between participating countries and to promote research areas which will position Europe at the forefront of technology. Since Israel is an associate member of the FP, local companies can participate in its activities and enjoy research grants without waiving their Intellectual Property (IP) rights.
The FP encourages the formation of international consortiums in which academic institutions and industrial companies can cooperate, pursuing development and implementation of knowledge.
The benefits Israeli companies and academic institutions can reap from joining FP consortiums include access to the EU market, exposure to new technologies, involvement in the specification of new
standards, exposure to potential customers, suppliers and competitors, leveraging of large and richly funded projects, and—last but not least—reception of R&D grants without waiving their IP rights.
Considering the prerequisites for joining the FP, this type of funding is suitable for specific companies and projects only. However, such companies and projects can enjoy significant leveraging by gaining access to know-how and technologies that are not otherwise readily available and creation of long-term relationships with European partners. In the long term this may prove more valuable than a financial grant.
Local activities of FP7 are managed by ISERD, the Israeli directorate for the EU Framework Program. It operates under the auspices of the OCS and is controlled by a steering committee staffed by
representatives of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, and the planning and budgeting committee of the Council for Higher Education.