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Russia is ready to budget a million dinars for scientific cooperation - Israel only half a million shekels

For the first time, Russia agreed to finance joint research with Israeli scientists, which will focus on nanotechnology  

By: Yuval Dror, Haaretz *  
The Israeli Center for Academic Relations with the countries of the former Soviet Union and the Baltic States has reached an agreement with the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, within the framework of which the two will publish a "call" for scientific research in the field of nanotechnology by teams of Russian and Israeli scientists. According to the agreement, each party will finance "its" scientists up to an amount of about 120 thousand dollars. This is the first time that Russia agrees to finance joint research with Israeli scientists. According to Dr. Alexander Livin, who is responsible for the field of science at the center, the Russian foundation is ready to invest about one million dollars in scientific cooperation with Israeli researchers. However, due to a lack of budget on the Israeli side, the amount is much smaller.

The Israeli Center for Academic Relations, established in 1998 by virtue of a government decision, is the responsibility of the Prime Minister's Office and its conduct is supervised by the Hebrew University - until the end of the year. According to Livin, who joined the center in July 2002, the government's decision stated that the chief scientist of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (now the Ministry of Industry and Trade (now the Ministry of Industry and Trade), will finance the center's activities in the amount of NIS 550, however, over the past few years, some of the ministers of the Ministry of Industry and Trade have decided to stop the budgeting the center This year Livin managed to extract the promised amount.

The center operates on two levels - in the field of Jewish studies at Moscow University as well as in the field of scientific cooperation between Israel and the countries of the former Soviet Union and the Baltic states. Livin, who is responsible for raising funds for scientific cooperation, contacted the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, which is funded by the Russian government. "We decided that scientific cooperation between Israeli and Russian scientists should be promoted. To that end, it was decided that each side would fund its own scientists - we the Israeli scientists, and they the Russian scientists," explains Livin.

According to him, he recently traveled with Prof. Haim Rabinovitch, the Rector of the Hebrew University, who received a verbal promise from Prof. Mikhail Elfimov, the chairman of the Russian Foundation, according to which he would pit the Russian budget against the Israeli one. Next month, the parties will publish a "call" for scientists in Israel who wish to conduct research in nanotechnology, in cooperation with Russian scientists.

"The amounts we will offer them are tiny," admits Livin, "our entire budget amounts to NIS 550, or about $120, given to us by the chief scientist at TMT. Alfimov said he is ready to fund research in the amount of one million dollars, but we don't have the resources," says Livin. "With the $15 given to each winning group, we will encourage them to travel to Moscow, work with their colleagues," he explains.

In Israel there are collaborations that encourage research by Israeli scientists with colleagues in Germany, France, the USA, India, Korea and more. "Everyone agrees that we must also cooperate with the Russian scientists, but at the same time they claim that the Russians have no money. This is not true. The problem is that we have no money."

As a first step to promote cooperation between the countries, a conference is currently being held in Jerusalem, attended by 22 Russian researchers in the field of physics. The conference is organized by the Israeli Center for Academic Relations and financed by the Shucharim Association of the Hebrew University in Moscow.

But Livin is not at all sure that the project will come to fruition. According to him, on December 31 the mandate given to the Hebrew University to assist the center will end. "Without academic assistance, there is no justification for the existence of the center," says Livin. According to him, he is working these days to extend the mandate or hold a tender between the other universities in Israel.

Yesterday, Livin met with the Minister of Science, Eliezer Zandberg, in an attempt to obtain an additional budget. Zandberg said he supports the program, but he does not yet know how much money he will budget for it. "I am in favor of this type of collaboration and I intend to examine how the Ministry of Science can help. In the coming days I will contact other government offices to see if they are also willing to contribute to the project," he said.
*As part of a content partnership with Walla at the time

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