The competitive process conducted by the Israel Innovation Authority together with the National Digital Israel Initiative at the National Digital Ministry led to selection of the proposal submitted by a group consisting of four leading global pharma companies – Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Merck, and Teva, as well as the Israel Biotech Fund and tech giant Amazon Web Services (AWS)— to establish an innovation lab in the fields of digital health and computational biology. The group will establish the Lab at the Rehovot Science Park and invest in building a wet computational lab infrastructure in order to assist early-stage entrepreneurs and startups to meet the challenges of the healthcare industry, from the ideation stage to attaining proof of concept.
The Lab, scheduled to open in 2021, will be joining existing innovation labs as part of the Israel Innovation Authority's Innovation Lab Program. It was awarded a government budget of NIS 32 million, as well as additional financing from the winning group's partners. The group has been awarded a five year operational franchise, during which the Innovation Authority, together with the National Digital Ministry, will finance 85% of a total NIS 3 million budget for each startup that joins the lab, enabling them to reach significant milestones in their technological development. The Innovation Authority and National Digital Ministry will also participate in the operating costs and in setting up the lab's infrastructure.
The rapid development of vaccines for the COVID-19 virus owes its success in part to the Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities of leading pharma companies such as Pfizer and Moderna. These areas are expected to become even more significant over the coming years.
The purpose of the Lab is to assist in the establishment and advancement of new startups developing innovative AI-based computational technologies aimed at discovering personalized solutions and treatments. The Lab will also help its startups — with assistance of the lab partners and access they provide to their unique scientific knowhow and leading experts — in developing groundbreaking medications and treatments.
Aharon Aharon, CEO of the Innovation Authority: "This last year proved that the healthcare sector is rapidly transitioning to development and use of advanced technologies integrating engineering and biology, which has already led to more accurate results within a shorter time framework. This lab is part of the ‘Bio-convergence Strategy’ promoted by the Innovation Authority over the last year, aimed at establishing a successful, innovative ecosystem in the healthcare sector, which will serve as a proper basis for establishing innovative companies based on groundbreaking academic research performed in these areas in Israel. The expertise and vast experience of the lab partners will enable these companies to establish a significant, trailblazing industry in Israel."
Asher Bitton, Director-General of the National Digital Ministry: "Digital health and computational biology are transforming both healthcare and the economy. We have all only just recently become fully aware of the significance of these fields in the global race to develop the COVID-19 vaccines. I am thrilled with the establishment of the Innovation Lab, in collaboration with leading global pharma corporations. It will enable startups and researchers to cooperate with health organizations, advance groundbreaking studies, build unique data and knowledge bases, and develop innovative solutions to assist the healthcare system. This is yet another successful project in the national plan for "digital health as a national growth engine," led by the National Digital Israel Initiative, together with many partners in the government."