In 2019, mission and customer oriented divisions of the Israel Innovation Authority took a variety of measures to advance the growth of the Israeli innovation ecosystem
The Innovation Authority endeavors to provide solutions for the various challenges facing the Israeli innovation ecosystem via 7 activity “Divisions”. Each assignment- and client- directed Division offers a unique toolbox for the different challenges of the technological life cycle.
This chapter presents the Divisions’ primary activities in 2019 and the way in which they translated the Authority’s policy into action and individual policy tools.
Technological Infrastructure Division
The Technological Infrastructure Division focuses on R&D infrastructure, development of applied knowledge, transfer of knowledge from academia to industry, and the development of generic technologies alongside dual use R&D (civilian and defense).
The main programs of the Technological Infrastructure Division are: The MAGNET Consortiums (pre-competitive generic R&D), R&D Infrastructure Users’ Association, Knowledge Direction and Transfer (KAMIN, NOFAR, Technology Transfer and MAGNETON) and Dual Use R&D (MEIMAD). The Division is also responsible for the Authority’s activity in the National Infrastructure Forum for R&D (TELEM).
Main Activities in 2019:
About 300 R&D projects were examined and a total of approx. 325 million shekels was approved including:
- 10 projects of new and ongoing MAGNET consortiums, for a total of 150 million shekels.
- 170 knowledge direction projects, for a total of 65 million shekels.
- 50 knowledge transfer projects (academic-industrial collaboration), for a total of 55 million shekels.
- 15 R&D projects in industrial application institutes, for a total of 7 million shekels.
- 40 dual use R&D projects (civilian and defense), for a total of 50 million shekels.
Main Activities in Detail:
MAGNET Consortiums: Six new consortiums began operating as part of this program, aimed at advancing and developing groundbreaking technologies that will give Israeli industry a significant competitive advantage:
- The Graphene Consortium – developing capabilities to manufacture and integrate graphene in the printed circuit board industry.
- The Smart Imaging Consortium – identifying swift dynamic events in a wide field and sensor-level processing (in conjunction with the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure).
- Industrial Robotics – developing robotic technologies for assembly of flexible and linear parts in small production batches.
- The Avatar Consortium – technologies used in decision making of autonomous vehicles (in conjunction with the Fuel Choices and Smart Mobility Initiative at the Prime Minister’s Office).
- The CIRCLE Consortium – using recycled materials for plastic products.
- The Quantum Leap Consortium – developing quantum sensor technologies (in conjunction with the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure).
Three additional new consortiums were also given organizational approval – Artificial Intelligence for wireless communication in 5G devices, smart planting – vegetative reproduction safety, and technologies for enhancing and improving precision of CRISPR systems.
Several changes were introduced during the year to the regulations of the MAGNET program consortiums and in its operation in order to streamline, simplify and adapt it to current industrial needs:
- Moderated guidelines relating to the inclusion of a partner that is a leading foreign corporation in its field, and that makes a marked contribution to the Israeli members of the consortium or association.
- Shortening the period of organization before setting up a new MAGNET consortium and introducing two Calls for Proposals a year.
- Including an Innovation Authority technological expert as a consultant to consortiums’ new initiatives in order to improve the quality of the proposals and the chances of their approval.
- Simplification of a consortium’s submission and operational procedure in a way that enables each member of the consortium direct communication (administrative and financial) with the Authority without encroaching on the members’ principle of partnership.
Updates introduced during the year in Technology Knowledge Direction and Transfer Programs (KAMIN, NOFAR, Technology Import, MAGNETON, and Application Institutes) aimed at advancing applied R&D in academia and technology transfer from academia to industry:
The NOFAR and KAMIN programs were amalgamated in a single academic knowledge direction program and research committee. This was done to allow greater flexibility, operational efficiency, and comparability. Furthermore, the option of advance approval of a multi-year budget was made available (obviating the need for further submissions for subsequent projects), an expanded program of 36 months for drug development was designated, the option was given to add an accompanying corporation (that participates in financing and serves as a directive factor) at each stage of the project and not limited to only one year.
The objective of these changes (apart from operational efficiency) is to support effective and applied collaboration between academia and industry, ahead of commercialization of the developed knowledge.
Technology Knowledge Transfer Program (From Academia to Industry) was expanded and enables support in 3 different cases:
- MAGNETON – transfer of knowledge from research institutes to industrial corporations in order to ratify knowledge developed in academia and to adapt it to meet market needs.
- Knowledge Import – transfer of knowledge to an Israeli industrial corporation from a foreign research institute to bridge technological gaps for which Israeli academia has no answer.
- Ongoing MAGNET – collaboration between a company from the consortium and a research institute interested in continuing generic R&D activity conducted in the consortium but which is yet to mature into product development.
12 projects were financed as part of the efforts to enhance the capabilities of the industrial application institutes, and it was decided to allow institutes to submit projects of knowledge direction while encouraging industry to collaborate with the institutes via the Advanced Manufacturing Division’s MOFET program.
MEIMAD Programs: These programs aim to support dual use R&D – technologies that have a civilian commercial use alongside a defense sector use. The Technological Infrastructures Division has begun preliminary work to examine ways of improving the program and to bolster the contribution of the defense industry as one of the growth engines of the Israeli economy.
The Start-Up Division supports technological initiatives in their early stages. The Division employs a variety of unique tools in order to assist these initiatives develop the technological idea into a product, raise initial capital and progress to the next financing stage and to sales. The Division also strives to bolster the technological innovation ecosystem throughout Israel and in growing technological sectors which have potential to make a significant contribution to the economy.
The main programs of the Start-Up Division are: Tnufa (Ideation), Innovation Laboratories, the Incubators Program, Early Stage Companies, Technological Entrepreneurship in Haifa, Young Entrepreneurship Program.
Main Activities in 2019:
- 340 projects of start-up companies’ in early stages received a total of 430 million
- shekels. The average grant for a start-up company was 1.3 million shekels.
- Support was given for the establishment of 4 new incubators for promoting technological entrepreneurship in Israel’s geographical periphery – one in the food sector in Kiryat Shmona, and three others in peripheral areas in northern and southern Israel.
- 120 projects received support as part of the Tnufa (Ideation) Program aimed at assisting new entrepreneurs.
- 5 innovation laboratories helped 20 initiatives grow and prove feasibility. In addition, an operator for an innovation laboratory in the fields of environmental protection and sustainability was selected (the laboratory will begin operating in 2020), and preparatory processes began for selecting a franchiser to operate another laboratory in Beer Sheva for financial cyber defense.
- A franchiser was selected to promote technological entrepreneurship in Haifa in order to strengthen the city’s entrepreneurial community and increase the number of high- tech companies operating there. The grant, for 25 million shekels, will be awarded for a period of 4 years.
- As part of the Innovation Authority’s Bio-Convergence Program strategy that will be implemented across all Authority Divisions, the support for Tnufa initiatives in this field was doubled. Furthermore, emphasis was placed on all the Start-Up Division programs promoting entrepreneurs and companies in these fields.
Main Activities in Detail:
During 2019, the Start-Up Division expanded its support for early-stage start-up companies. It launched a program to encourage entrepreneurship in the periphery – this program is aimed at promoting local entrepreneurship via specially designated laboratories that will promote and assist the establishment of R&D and commercialization start-up companies. Three entrepreneurial laboratories were selected that focus on Industry 4.0 – cleantech, agrotech, plastic and medical cannabis. The laboratories are expected to be established in Karmiel, the Bnei Shimon Regional Council and in Yeruham.
As part of the Authority’s endeavors to promote innovation in areas beyond central Israel, a program to promote technological entrepreneurship in Haifa was launched in 2019. The program’s goal is to increase the number of start-up companies and technological initiatives in the city. This will be achieved by: creating synergy and cooperation between principle city stakeholders (the municipality, academia, industry, business sector, and non-profit sector), bolstering the urban infrastructures and using Haifa’s strategic assets, encouraging entrepreneurial independence, strengthening the Haifa entrepreneurial community and including minority populations (Arabs, ultra-Orthodox, women and Ethiopians), while branding and marketing Haifa as a center of entrepreneurship and innovation.
The goal of the Technological Innovation Laboratories Program is to create new technological ecosystems and advance early-stage high-tech companies by enabling access to technological infrastructures via multi-national corporations and cross-sector collaborations. In addition to the 5 active laboratories, competitive procedures were published in 2019 for the establishment of 2 new laboratories: one in the field of environmental protection and sustainability (in conjunction with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Economy & Industry) that will be established in Haifa; and another in the field of financial cyber and fintech (in conjunction with the National Cyber Directorate and the Cyber Security and Emergency Department at the Ministry of Finance) that will be set up in Beer Sheva. The laboratories will begin operating in 2020.
The Early Stage Companies Incentive Program is intended for start-up companies interested in developing and advancing an innovative technological initiative and in penetrating the market by raising investments and capital from the private market. The Division granted a total of 300 million shekels to support 60 start-up companies this year while expanding its support for different sectors:
- In conjunction with the Societal Challenges Division, and in order to increase the number of female entrepreneurs and their ratio in the Israeli innovation ecosystem, it was decided to award enlarged grants to female entrepreneurs.
- The Division began collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to support agriculture technology that has a significant impact on agriculture, both in Israel and overseas. As part of the agricultural cooperation, 18 companies submitted requests for support for agricultural technologies, of which a total of 15.5 million shekels was approved and awarded to 10 companies.
- Special guidelines were developed in conjunction with the Advanced Manufacturing Division for the support of early-stage companies from the traditional industry- technology and mixed-traditional sectors in order to provide a better response to manufacturing companies operating in these sectors.
Towards the end of the year, the Early-Stage Companies Program moved to the Growth Division in order to provide a single response for the different target audiences applying to the Authority.
Israel Innovation Authority – In Practice: The First Company in the World to Grow Meat from Cattle Cells
As part of the Innovation Authority’s endeavor to identify areas with potential that require state intervention, the Authority designated the promising field of food-tech and took action to promote it in various ways. To this end, the Authority supported the establishment of a unique incubator in this sector – ‘The Kitchen’ which opened in Ashdod back in 2015.
The start-up company Aleph Farms, founded in 2017 as part of the incubator, produces cultured meat based on cow cells that are similar in taste, structure and texture to traditional meat, all without physically harming a single animal. With the Innovation Authority’s support, the company achieved a significant milestone that enabled it to raise 11.7 million dollars in 2019.
The company’s technology is based on a process of renewal and reconstruction of cow muscle tissue. The company grows the cells extracted from the animal, isolating the cells responsible for the process and creates tissues that include fat, muscle and bone which make up the meat itself.
The company is interested in replacing the currently accepted method for manufacturing meat with a friendlier process that makes minimal use of resources. The cultured meat will preserve the meat’s nutritional value but, because of the unique production method, will be defined as VEGAN.
The Growth Division strives to increase the economic value created in Israel from the growth of complete high-tech companies by:Supporting groundbreaking high-risk innovation as a technological growth engine in high-tech companies.Promoting an attractive, competitive and advanced financing environment and removing regulatory and financial obstacles to growth.Supporting pilot programs for innovative technologies and helping secure access to Beta sites and supportive regulation.Promoting innovative regulation in Israel and creating opportunities for the development and assimilation of technological innovation, both in high-tech and in the local economy.
The main programs of the Growth Division are: The R&D Fund, Generic R&D Program, The Pilots Program.
Main Activities in 2019:
In 2019 the Growth Division awarded a total of 580 million shekels for support of innovation, distributed as follows:
- The R&D Fund: 120 companies in 150 projects received total grants of 355 million shekels.
- Generic R&D: 21 large companies received a total of 100 million shekels via the Breakthrough R&D Incentive Program.
- The Pilots Program: 75 companies received 100 million shekels for conducting pilots for innovative technologies in a variety of Beta sites throughout Israel. This activity was conducted with the cooperation of 13 government entities that assisted with financing, supportive regulation and access to relevant test sites.
- Multinational Companies’ R&D Centers: 30 million shekels were invested in the establishment of multinational companies’ R&D centers in the fields of medical devices and digital health.
Main Activities in Detail:
During 2019, the Growth Division expanded its joint activity with regulators and various government entities in a number of avenues in order to promote a regulatory business environment that supports growth and innovation.
To this end, the Growth Division significantly expanded the activity in the Incentive Program for Technologies Pilots conducted in Israel, which began in 2018. This activity is based on collaborations with additional government entities. The expansion in 2019 was expressed in all aspects of the program and especially:
- The Program’s budget that increased from 70 million shekels to 100 million shekels.
- The number of companies and projects receiving support that grew from 60 to 75.
- The number of participating government entities that grew from 5 to 13.
A list of the participating government entities appears in Diagram 7.1
As part of the Pilots Program, the Growth Division has taken on a technological and innovation challenge issued by the Ministry of Agriculture: the streamlining of wholesale trade in fresh agricultural produce (see below for more details). Maintaining and expanding the Pilots Program constitutes a central component of the Division’s 2020 work plan.
Another route towards an innovation-supportive financial-business environment was formulated together with the Israel Securities Authority that helped the Division launch a new program aimed at supporting the building of high-tech investment capabilities and expertise among Israeli institutional investors. The program aims to encourage institutional investors to become more significant players in the Israeli high-tech investment field in a way that markedly improves the diversity and scope of the financing capabilities to high- tech companies in the growth stage and that will help Israeli institutional investors build advanced investment capabilities in high-tech and the digital economy.
In 2019 the Growth Division also collaborated with several regulatory entities to identify sectors in which the business regulatory environment supporting innovation can be improved and to formulate relevant operative recommendations. Among the recommendations proposed were the removal of obstacles and encouragement of organic and non-organic growth. Advancing the recommendations and activating the Program to Encourage Investment of Institutional Investors are another central objective of the Division’s 2020 work plan.
The Israeli Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution was one of the steps implemented as part of the increased collaboration with regulators and various government entities and in order to advance technological regulation that creates and assimilates technological innovation in high-tech and in the local economy. The center, established in 2019 in conjunction with the World Economic Forum, is called C4IR and constitutes yet another central component of the Division’s work plan for 2020.
Furthermore, as part of the organizational change at the Innovation Authority, it was decided that from 2020 the Early Stage Incentive Program will be transferred from the Start-Up Division to the Growth Division. This change was implemented to enable a seamless and uniform processing of applications and assistance to companies that start their growth at an earlier stage. The Innovation Authority believes that creating a fluid process will enhance the Authority’s ability to assist companies to grow and become complete technology companies. Initiation of this program, during which grants of 300 million shekels are awarded, also constitutes one of the central elements of the Growth Division’s work plan for 2020.
Israel Innovation Authority – In Practice: Establishment of Trading Rings for Fresh Agricultural Produce
The Innovation Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture are working together to advance innovation in the fields under the auspices of the Ministry. At the beginning of 2019, the two entities identified the less than optimal operation of the “wholesale market” (the wholesale segment in the trade of fresh agricultural produce) and understood that technological innovation could significantly improve this segment’s efficiency.
A joint process with the Ministry of Finance resulted in the development of a technological solution model based on support for the establishment of online trading rings for fresh agricultural produce. Such trading rings, if successful, can lead to a revolution in the ways fresh agricultural produce is purchased, priced, sold and supplied by implementing optimization, automation, and mechanization processes of the logistics, trade and pricing operations.
For the Ministry of Agriculture, an advanced process such as this is aimed at shortening and expediting the supply chain, improving price transparency and streamlining the trading mechanism. As a result of this process, the payment to the farmer will increase, the final consumer price will decrease, and food waste will be reduced.
For the Innovation Authority, this process is aimed at advancing an innovative field of technology that has great commercial potential, both in Israel and, based on the local pilot trial, worldwide.
In light of these goals, a Call for Proposals was launched this year as part of the Support for Pilots Program whereby technology companies were invited to submit proposals for the establishment of an online digital trading ring for fresh agricultural produce.
Eighteen initiatives submitted proposals and after 3 months of in-depth evaluation, the Innovation Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture approved total support of 20 million shekels for 5 different projects. The support will be given incrementally (according to compliance with designated milestones) over a period of 24 months.
This process, based on a focused Call for Proposals as part of the Support for the Pilots Program, has many advantages:
- The 5 initiatives propose different and diverse solutions for the problem. The Pilots Program allows to advance with the process without choosing a “single winner” in advance, thereby enabling market forces and innovation to operate freely.
- The Pilots Program allows the five initiatives to receive assistance and support from the regulator (the Ministry of Agriculture) in a way that enables them to improve their product and shorten the time and effort needed to receive regulatory approvals and start the practical demonstration.
- The pilot’s success will expose the companies to global business potential. An Israeli company capable of presenting a successful significant-scale pilot will have an advantage in penetrating international markets, this in response to the demand arising in other countries that are also seeking technological ways of improving trading processes of fresh agricultural produce.
The project to establish an online trading ring for fresh agricultural produce is an example of the Pilots Program’s potential to serve as a unique new policy tool for providing a response to the institutional challenges in Israel, based on assimilating innovative technology.
The Innovation Authority is checking the possibility of using this policy tool for other institutional challenges, specifically those involving a technological solution with economic potential in Israel and abroad.
Societal Challenges Division
The Societal Challenges Division is active in two sectors: development of skilled human capital for high-tech and the promotion of technological R&D that is directed at solving public and social challenges.
The main programs in the development of human capital sector: Coding Bootcamps, Back to Tech, High-Tech Specialization, Advanced Technology Studies Workshop, Early Stage Companies – Ultra-Orthodox, Minorities and Women (in conjunction with the Start-Up Division).
The main programs in the public-social R&D sector: Gov-Tech (Mimshal- Tech), Grand Challenge Israel – GCI (Etgar) and Assistive Technology for the Disabled (Ezer-Tech.)
Main Activities in 2019:
- 7 training programs operated as part of the Coding Bootcamps Program with a total of 250 graduates who were trained for the high-tech industry.
- More than 500 experts came to Israel via the Innovation Visas Program for Foreign Entrepreneurs.
- 45 innovative projects received total support of 33.5 million shekels via the Gov-Tech (Innovation for Public Sector Challenges) Program.
- 12 innovative projects received total support of 8.9 million shekels via the Assistive Technology for the Disabled (Ezer-Tech) Program.
- 14 innovative projects received total support of 7.1 million shekels via the The Grand Challenges Israel (Etgar) Incentive Program.
Main Activities in Detail:
Development of skilled human capital for high-tech: As part of the Innovation Authority’s endeavor to remove obstacles hindering the growth of Israeli high-tech, the Societal Challenges Division is striving to increase the supply of skilled personnel for high-tech professions. These efforts are undertaken by developing infrastructures and tools, and via cooperation with industry, private sector and other government parties.
2019 was the first year of full operation for the programs chosen during a competitive procedure for the Coding Bootcamps Program – non-academic programs aimed at training people with high proficiency such as academic science degree graduates, for development positions in high-tech. The program was structured so that the remuneration awarded to the training entities it supports depends on the graduates’ successful integration into the high-tech industry in high-salary development positions. The program also incentivizes the integration of women and other under-represented populations in high-tech. During the first pilot year, 250 graduates were trained in programs supported by the Authority. Furthermore, the coding bootcamp market in Israel has expanded to more than 1,000 graduates a year.
The High-Tech Specialization Program, launched in 2019, provides a response to the challenge of the unrealized human capital potential of “juniors” finishing relevant academic studies but finding it difficult to integrate into the industry due to lack of practical experience. A survey conducted by the Innovation Authority in conjunction with SNC reveals that 40% of high-tech companies don’t hire “junior” developers and engineers without experience. The program encourages companies to hire juniors by granting financial support to build specialists’ programs within the company that are adapted to their needs.
The Advanced Technology Studies Workshop was also launched in 2019 to contend with the growing shortage of experts in advanced technology fields and to contribute to Israeli leadership in these fields. The program supports the creation of a joint framework for a group of high-tech companies that will provide their employees with advanced training while working in the industry. At the end of 2019, the first Call for Proposals was published as part of this program for proposals in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The Authority assisted the Population Authority in activating an expert visa for high-tech. This is a new visa category that was created in 2018 in cooperation with different government entities in order to enable Israeli hi-tech companies to employ foreign experts with unique knowledge. So far, more than 500 foreign experts have joined the industry via these visas.
The Back to Tech Program provides assistance to Israeli technology professionals returning to live in Israel, helping them re-integrate into the local high-tech industry by connecting them with employers as well as creating a community and knowledge platforms.
Together with the Start-Up Division,1As mentioned above, as part of an organizational change at the Innovation Authority, it was decided that from 2020 the Early-Stage Companies Support Program will be transferred from the Start-Up Division to the Growth Division the Societal Challenges Division launched a special program to extend increased support to early-stage companies led and owned by women. The program aims to increase the number of female entrepreneurs and bolster the success of their initiatives. This step received a positive response and there has already been a marked increase in the number of requests submitted by women. This program joins others granting expanded support to projects led by Arabs and Ultra-Orthodox entrepreneurs which this year awarded 25 million shekels to more than 10 such projects. All the programs include an intensive marketing and access program and maintain a dialogue with the ecosystem’s other stakeholders.
The Division also endeavors to present data and insights on the subject of skilled human capital for high-tech, specifically via partnership with Start-up Nation Central for publishing the 2019 High-Tech Human Capital Report.
The Division is also cooperating with various government entities, among others via participation in the steering committee of the SheCodes Project (for the integration of women in high-tech) of the Department of Labor in the Ministry of Labor and in the steering committee of the Masa-Tech Project (for the integration of people recognized as Jews according to the Law of Return) run by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Together with the Department of Labor, the National Economic Council and the Budgets Department of the Ministry of Finance, the Division holds a quarterly employers’ forum in order to learn and receive vital input from the market regarding participants’ training programs.
Technology R&D that Provides a Response to Public and Social Challenges
The Division operates 3 main support programs in this area:
- The program to encourage innovation for public sector challenges – Gov-Tech (Mimshal-Tech) that operates in conjunction with the Digital Israel Initiative in the Ministry of Social Equality.
- The Assistive Technology for the Disabled Incentive Program (Ezer-Tech) that operates in conjunction with the Funds Division of the National Insurance Institute.
- The Grand Challenges Israel Incentive Program (Etgar) that operates in conjunction with the Agency for International Development Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Division launched the Tech for Impact conference for the first time this year together with the partners in each program where the support strategy for projects with public and social impact were presented together with the program details and success stories. The conference also offered an opportunity to connect the sector’s entrepreneurs, investors and government representatives (the “clients” of the public sector). A comprehensive list of projects receiving support from the impact tracks was published with the aim of encouraging continued investments.
The Division was partner to the writing of the first Social Finance Israel report that reviewed the Israeli impact industry and was launched at the OurCrowd conference. The Division also participated in the Israel Impact Summit of TechForGood and ACTO that aims to strengthen this sector in Israel and attract foreign investors.
Extensive marketing activities were undertaken throughout the year together with various partners, including more than 12 public meetings with entrepreneurs and a series of webinars. These activities aimed to increase the scope and quality of the initiatives applying for support and focusing the entrepreneurs on the significant challenges defined in the Calls for Proposals. As a result, there was an increase in the quality and relevance of the requests and a 25% increase in submissions to the Gov-Tech (Mimshal-Tech) Program. Most of these were in the sectors of health (about a third), education, local government, the Council for Higher Education, and welfare.
An impact assessment pilot of the Division’s programs was conducted in 2019: a new criterion of social impact for evaluating the requests was added and training was provided for the submitters and evaluators.
The successful companies in the first Call for Proposals of the 2019 Grand Challenges Israel program were presented at the international Grand Challenges conference led by the Gates Foundation which was held in Ethiopia in October 2019. The aim of the conference was to promote innovation in the field of health and sustainable development in developing countries.2For further details see https://gatesopenresearch.org/posters/3-1569 This program has been operating since 2014, was relaunched in 2018, and has awarded support to 27 projects so far.
The Innovation Authority – In Practice: Serenus.AI
The Israeli start-up company Serenus.AI received support as part of the Gov- Tech (Mimshal-Tech) Program in order to develop innovative technology based on Artificial Intelligence that aims at improving the decision-making process prior to medical procedures.
Studies published in recent years reveal that a significant percentage of medical treatments and procedures are unnecessary and life threatening. In the US alone, an estimated 35% of operations are defined as superfluous and 30% of antibiotic prescriptions are issued unnecessarily with more than 7 million cases of hospitalization deemed medically unnecessary. This reality harms the patients’ health, creates hospital overcrowding and wastes resources valuable to the health system – resources that could have been channeled to saving lives and improving the medical system. Beyond the cost of the treatments themselves, there are additional expenses some of which are imposed on the patients themselves, including the loss of workdays, financing treatment of medical complications etc.
The system, developed with the assistance of the Innovation Authority, is an innovative pioneering computerized system that uses Artificial Intelligence, and which is used as a professional tool that contributes to enhancing the decision-making process prior to medical procedures. The system is based on the latest medical guidelines, recent studies in each field, and models of machine learning that are built with the help of leading physicians in a range of specialized fields. The system aims to allow a computerized examination of each medical case vis-à-vis the latest information in the relevant field while evaluating each patient’s relevant medical data and history.
Use of the tools offered by the system enables both the physician and the patient to make informed decisions about whether to perform a certain procedure, while possessing a full understanding of the risks involved on the one hand and the conservative therapeutic alternatives on the other. Similar to a smart instruction book, the Serenus.AI system serves as a valuable auxiliary tool, however the final discretion on whether to perform a medical procedure still remains in the hands of the physician. The patients’ data fed into the system is anonymous and their privacy is maintained.
The company is focusing initially on indicating elective invasive operations that endanger patients’ lives and impose high costs on health systems.
Advanced Manufacturing Division
The Advanced Manufacturing Division strives to strengthen manufacturing industry and increase its competitiveness by encouraging processes of R&D and technological innovation.
The main programs of the Advanced Manufacturing Division are: the R&D Preparatory Incentive Program and MOFET (R&D in the Manufacturing Industry).
Main Activities in 2019:
- An increase of 48% in the number of requests submitted to the MOFET Program – from 194 requests submitted by manufacturing factories in 2018 to 288 requests in 2019.
- 206 programs received a total of 143 million shekels in MOFET support – the average grant was 695,000 shekels.
- 90 companies submitted programs accompanied by a technology expert for the R&D Preparatory Incentive Program. The grants awarded in 2019 totaled 5.7 million shekels.
- 213 requests were submitted by new companies that had not previously made a submission (MOFET and the Preparatory Program). This figure constitutes 60% of all submissions.
- More than half the grants approved in the Division’s programs were allocated to companies operating in the periphery.
- 8 Calls for Proposals were issued for MOFET of which 2 were opened in conjunction with government ministries that generated 58 submissions to the MOFET Program.
The R&D Preparatory Program supports the guidance of manufacturing companies in structuring their R&D foundations. In this program, a manufacturing accompany is assisted by a technology expert it chooses and who accompanies the company in building its R&D program. The program has 4 secondary tracks:
- Preparation for assimilating R&D processes.
- Assessment of technological feasibility.
- Developing solutions for flaws in the production process.
- Improved production process and adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies.
Intense fieldwork to promote the program’s exposure, including conferences and professional tours to factories throughout the country led to 90 additional companies utilizing the R&D Preparatory Program in 2019. During the year, 24 companies receiving support as part of the R&D preparatory Program succeeded in composing a comprehensive and innovative R&D program that was submitted to the MOFET Program.
MOFET (R&D in the Manufacturing Industry) – a program aimed at encouraging production-oriented industrial factories to advance and assimilate technological innovation processes, including improvement and development of innovative products, existing products or production processes. Requests are submitted for implementation of R&D programs by production companies in order to improve their competitive advantage in the local and global markets using technological innovation.
206 industrial companies received support from the MOFET Program in 2019. More than half of them are companies operating in Israel’s geographical periphery. Industry is encouraged to submit requests via a number of channels including presentation of the incentive programs at 60 conferences around the country, mainly in peripheral areas, together with academia, the Ministry of Economy, the Manufacturers’ Association, and other entities. In addition, the Innovation Authority held a special conference on the subject of advanced manufacturing which brought together industrial companies and technology companies that offer relevant solutions in the fields of smart factories and advanced manufacturing. During this year’s conference, which attracted 150 participants, many new contacts were established that furthered programs aimed at assimilating solutions for smart factories.
In addition, the Division is issuing focused Calls for Proposals for support of technological innovation in specific industrial sectors. As part of this initiative, the Division, in conjunction with the Manufacturers’ Association and industrial application institutes, issued Calls for Proposals to manufacturing companies in the automotive, cosmetics, packaging, aviation, and other sectors.
The Division also cooperated with government ministries in focusing on unique Calls for Proposals: one aimed at encouraging R&D to improve the nutritional value of industrial food and enhancing food security and public health was issued together with the Ministry of Health as part of the national Program for Active and Healthy Living; and another aimed at encouraging submission of R&D and pilot programs to streamline the construction industry, improve materials and enhance safety was issued together with the Ministry of Construction and Housing.
In an attempt to encourage the establishment of Israeli factories or production lines that use advanced technology, the Division conducted a joint program (for the second year) together with the Authority for Investments and Development of the Industry at the Ministry of Economy and Industry. The aim of the program is to bridge over the “Death Valley” between R&D and small-scale production. This program is part of a broader strategic approach aimed at encouraging the development of innovative production processes among companies developing tangible products and creates a continuous sequence of government support from the R&D stage until the establishment of an industrial factory in Israel. 10 companies that were found suitable for this track, received approval and began operating to establish a production line.
The Authority is acting to create a continuous sequence of support for industrial companies, from the initiation stage until they become a manufacturing industry company. For example, 2019 saw the launch of the Early-Stage Industrial Companies Program together with the Start-Up Division that aims to assist start-up companies developing a tangible product in the traditional or mixed-traditional industries. This support included incentives and unique budgetary grants awarded to innovative start-ups planning to establish a production line in Israel. We also strengthened the Division’s support for pilot programs in the fields of food and construction as part of the Pilots Program together with the Growth Division. Furthermore, in cooperation with the Technology Infrastructures Division, we encouraged industrial companies that are partners in the MAGNET Program to develop breakthrough technology in their field.
International Collaboration Division
The International Collaboration Division operates in conjunction with all the Divisions of the Innovation Authority to create a competitive advantage for Israeli companies and entities in global markets. This objective is achieved by promoting international R&D collaborations, support in adapting products to markets in developing countries, assistance in business development and in penetrating new markets.
The main programs of the International Collaboration Division are: Bi-National Funds, Bilateral Programs for Parallel Support, and programs for cooperation with multinational corporations.
Main Activities in 2019:
- 75 companies received grants as part of the Bilateral Parallel Support and Cooperation with Multinational Corporations Programs. The average grant for these companies was 650,000 shekels per project.
- 39 companies received total grants of 70 million shekels for projects as part of the Bi-National Funds Program.
- 12 bilateral technological collaboration agreements were signed.
- A change was undertaken in the Division’s structure and tools including the establishment of the Developing Markets Department and the Planning Unit and the expansion of the variety of supported collaborations.
Expanding of the variety of partners for binational cooperation supported by the Innovation Authority: the variety of partnerships that Israeli companies can enter into was expanded in 2019 in order to support the Authority’s strategic goals and to promote a range of collaborations between Israeli high-tech and innovation focal points around the world. Israeli companies can now submit a request for supported collaboration with any type of entity, including international entities, research institutes, investment funds, private foreign companies, local authorities, hospitals and global non-profits.
New bilateral collaboration agreements that enable pilots and R&D activity: as part of the bilateral collaborations, an agreement was signed in 2019 with the Fukuoka Municipality in Japan that enables Israeli companies to conduct technological pilots in the field of smart cities in Fukuoka. This is a novel agreement. It is the first collaboration with a potential partner possessing significant capability to undertake widespread assimilation and trial of technological solutions. This collaboration focuses on pilots for companies in advanced stages of product development. Success in the pilot program will enable them faster and easier market penetration.
Furthermore, as part of the effort to help Israeli companies execute pilots (demonstration and test-runs of technologies) in the global market, a collaboration has been established between the Innovation Authority and Mayo Clinic and Jefferson University Hospital in the US. This collaboration aims to allow Israeli companies to conduct international R&D and pilot activities at the American facilities in order to increase their exposure and encourage adoption of Israeli technological solutions in the American health system.
As part of these collaborations, Israeli companies can receive up to 50% support for the project from the Innovation Authority. Research institutes provide services, infrastructures, and expertise. The collaboration with these important entities has the potential to mature into commercial agreements with the entities themselves in addition to other local companies.
As part of the work plan for 2020, the Division plans to identify opportunities for further similar agreements while placing emphasis on agreements that can advance companies in the field of bio-convergence currently at the focus of the Authority’s work plan.
Organizational change in the Division’s structure – establishment of a Developing Markets Department: The Global Collaboration Division’s structure was changed in 2019 with the addition of a designated department for developing markets that is also responsible for the area of international development. This change was implemented in order to realize the economic potential of these markets. The role of the new department is to provide Israeli companies with access to the developing markets and it is therefore charged with increasing their familiarity with these markets and with their active players, including local companies, investors and global financial and development institutions. In addition, the department is also responsible for identifying and striving to remove the obstacles faced by Israeli companies seeking to export innovation to these markets.
Alongside financial support, the International Collaboration Division offers companies a variety of additional tools to help advance collaborations and penetrate global markets. Among the tools offered are virtual seminars, local and overseas training, delegations to promote Israeli innovation abroad, B2B (Business to Business) events and business development tools for Israeli companies. During 2019, the Authority hosted more than 20 delegations, over 1,000 business meetings and initiated delegations to new geographical areas such as Africa.
The Innovation Authority – In Practice: Artificial Intelligence for Diagnosing Tuberculosis
Thanks to Innovation Authority support via the Israel-India Fund, Zebra Medical Vision corporation has created a strategic collaboration with the largest health supplier in India, Apollo Hospitals, which has over 10 thousand beds in more than 70 hospitals. As part of this collaboration, Zebra Medical Vision operates an Artificial Intelligence tool for imaging used for swift, efficient and low-cost automatic diagnosis of tuberculosis. This tool could potentially revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis for millions of people in India and around the entire developing world.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are 3.6 million undiagnosed tuberculosis patients every year who do not receive proper treatment. While optimal treatment of tuberculosis begins in its initial stages, carriers of the disease at an early stage may arrive at a clinic showing only slight or even no symptoms, and therefore will not be diagnosed as carriers. Furthermore, the regular process for identifying the disease in its early stages succeeds in only 50% of the cases.
The Israeli corporation Zebra Medical Vision initially gained exposure in India via the Bridge to Innovation Program that was launched by the Innovation Authority in 2017. As part of this program, a meeting was held in India between Israeli companies and potential Indian partners. At the beginning of 2019, with the joint financial support of the Innovation Authority and the Indian Department of Science and Technology via the Israel India I4f Fund, the company signed on an agreement for the widescale assimilation of its diagnostic system in all health services provided by Apollo Hospitals, with an emphasis on outlying and rural areas that currently lack sufficient coverage.
This collaboration represents the largest and most widespread assimilation of Artificial Intelligence ever undertaken in India and may serve as a potential breakthrough in the diagnosis of tuberculosis, providing an important stride forward in the treatment of the disease and the millions of patients who suffer from it worldwide.
In September 2019, Zebra Medical Vision announced another new cooperation agreement, this time with Medsynaptic Pvt Ltd. an Indian PACS company that specializes in a distribution and display system of medical imaging and that develops unique IT solutions in the health services field.
ISERD – The Israel-EU R&D Directorate – Horizon 2020 Program
ISERD is responsible for implementation of Israel’s partnership with the European Union in the European R&D Horizon 2020 Program – the world’s largest R&D framework program. ISERD operates via the Innovation Authority and other steering committee members from the Council for Higher Education-Planning and Budgeting Committee, Ministry of Science, Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
ISERD’s main programs: SME Instrument for Industry, ERC for Academia and Multinational Consortiums for Industry and Academia. The European Research and Development Program is made up of programs that enable companies and researchers to submit a request for individual or consortium grants via open or specific-subject Calls for Proposals. The program also offers an array of financial tools operated via the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF).
Main Activities in 2019:
- 77 outstanding Israeli companies were awarded 72 grants totaling 89 million Euros during 2019.
- For the first time, in 2019 grants were also awarded as investment in companies’ shares and 9 Israeli companies received such offers.
- As part of the financial tools employed via the European Investment Bank, Israeli financial entities received an additional allocation of 483 million dollars in 2019 for extending loans to Israeli growth companies.
- Two Israeli companies received a total of 37 million Euros in loans directly from the European Bank.
- Two Israeli venture capital funds received investment of 35 million dollars.
EIC Accelerator (formerly: the SME Instrument Program): this is a financing tool that supports small and medium-sized companies interested in launching an innovative product, technology or process. In order to increase the number of companies that succeed in gaining financing via this tool, ISERD began efforts in 2019 to locate potentially successful companies from among the range of companies that apply for grants from the Innovation Authority. In addition, ISERD offers an assistance mechanism for submitting the request and passing the different selection stages, including help with required costs, and consultancy in conducting preliminary “dummy interviews”.
These activities were an important factor in the sharp increase in the number of companies receiving support and in the scope of grants awarded to Israeli companies via the program. As Diagram 7.4 shows, the grants awarded to companies via the program in 2019 were 2.4 times higher than the total awarded in 2018 and rose from 39 million euros to 89 million euros. A further reason for the increased scope of grants awarded is the change instigated in the program which enables a company to receive a larger grant that also includes equity investment.
ERC is another program aimed at financing breakthrough studies of outstanding scientists. The program extends support to all research fields and helps to preserve Europe’s best researchers. The ERC program is a central element of Horizon 2020. In 2019, an increase of 50% was recorded in excellence grants awarded to young researchers by this program – from 22 winners and 34 million euros to 34 winners and 53 million euros.
The Consortiums Program supports multinational R&D projects (at least 3 countries) in unique fields and encourages collaborations between players from industry, academia and other entities. Between 2016-2018, there was an increase of 44% in the number of consortiums with Israeli participation – from 90 consortiums to 130 consortiums.
Diagram 7.5 presents the results of Israeli participation in the program until now (from 2014-2019*):
The Innovation Authority – In Practice Extending Food’s Shelf Life
The NanoPack consortium, led by the Technion and including 18 participants from several academic institutions and leading industrial companies in Israel and European countries is a success story. The consortium was awarded 7.7 million euros by the Horizon 2020 Program in order to develop anti-microbial packaging solutions for perishable foods based on natural nanomaterials. These materials prevent the outbreak of disease caused by food and will also reduce food waste due to rapid food spoiling.
NanoPack’s packaging materials will extend the shelf life of food by 20%-25% while preserving its taste, nutritional value, color and other qualities. As a result, fresh food can be stored for longer without it changing its taste or aroma and without the need to add preservatives to the food itself. The NanoPack consortium aims to develop and operate experimental lines in operative industrial environments in order to create anti-microbial polymer layers on a commercial basis that will be accepted by both retailers and consumers.
The added value for the food industry will be enjoyed by consumers who will benefit from reduced waste and enhanced food security. The food industry will also benefit from longer shelf life that will, in turn, allow food producers to enter new, previously inaccessible global markets. In addition, food packaging manufacturers will be able to adopt new food packaging while using existing production lines, thereby allowing them to offer significant added value and higher profit margins.
Gaining support for the project as part of the Horizon 2020 Program was an important milestone in advancing the project – both thanks to the guarantee of significant funding and also, by virtue of connections established with a range of leading European industrial and retail companies. These contacts will examine the product’s suitability and its integration/inclusion in the European regulation and supply chain.