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Israel must continue participating in European Union programs, establishing national laboratories and strengthening research doctors

This is according to the report on the state of science in Israel for 2019 by the Israel National Academy of Sciences published this week

Einstein statue at the entrance to the Academy of Sciences - photo by Udi Katzman
Einstein statue at the entrance to the Academy of Sciences - photo by Udi Katzman

The Israeli National Academy of Sciences publishes the "State of Science in Israel Report", which is published once every three years, the purpose of which is to provide an up-to-date picture of the state of science and research in Israel and to set new goals and challenges for the coming years.

The committee appointed by the Academy to prepare the report, headed by Prof. Rashef Tana, was composed of members of the Academy and members of the Israeli Young Academy. The committee met with various parties in the higher education and research system in Israel and collected relevant data on research in Israel and around the world.

The main issues on which the committee's work was focused:

  • Developing and strengthening the international science relations of the State of Israel to foster basic scientific research. With the end of the European Horizon 2020 program and in light of Israel's success in the European R&D programs, the committee recommended the allocation of the resources required to continue Israel's extensive activities in the European Union's R&D programs. In addition to this, the committee recommends greatly increasing the budget of the German-Israeli Research Fund (GIF), which promotes scientific excellence and fruitful and important collaboration between researchers from both countries, but has been underfunded in recent years. Also, more joint research programs should be established with countries such as Great Britain and Switzerland, which are characterized by distinct scientific excellence.
  • Recognition of national research frameworks that exist outside universities "in national laboratories" and strengthening their activities. "National Laboratory" is a unique, non-university research facility, where joint research is done by researchers from academic institutions, industry and the facility itself. The committee recommends recognizing the existing "national laboratories" - the "resin" accelerator at MMG Sorek and the central laboratory of the Antiquities Authority. These institutions cooperate with the universities in Israel and abroad in the training of dedicated personnel and in research.
  • Humanities and social sciences - to strengthen these fields and cultivate them, a new competitive program in the humanities and social sciences for the most outstanding scientists should be established in the amount of approximately NIS 400,000 to NIS 800,000 per year for 4 to 5 years.
  • Strengthening doctor-researcher programs - in recent years we have witnessed a breakthrough progress in medical research in Israel and in the world, which is on the brink of a revolution and can lead to substantial achievements in health services. On the other hand, the doctors in the hospitals and in the community find it difficult to engage in medical research and thus realize the enormous potential inherent in advanced research in the field. The committee emphasized the importance of finding ways that would allow doctors in general and doctors in the public service in particular to engage in medical research. In addition to this, the committee recommended expanding the framework of the "doctor-researcher" program for graduate studies at research institutions.
  • Investment in academic research - from data comparisons with countries of a similar size to Israel, it is clear that public investment in academic research in the State of Israel is relatively low compared to investment in other enlightened countries. Comparing the relative investment to GDP, in these countries they invested 14-79% more in academic research than Israel, and therefore the outputs of the scientific system there are usually better than the scientific output in Israel. Nevertheless, research achievements in Israel indicate success, as evidenced by objective parameters: receiving important international awards, success in ERC (European Research Council) projects, the place of Israeli scientists in the ranking according to the number of most cited articles, and more. The report indicates that basic science in the State of Israel suffers from relatively little investment compared to countries with high scientific intensity. Funding for basic research is lacking, and without increasing investment, the State of Israel will not be able to successfully compete with the advanced countries.

"We appeal to the decision-makers in the country to study the conclusions of the report and its recommendations and ensure that Israeli science will continue to be at the forefront of global research in the years to come," says the president of the Israel National Academy of Sciences Prof. Neely Cohen. According to her, it is appropriate that basic science receive its rightful place on the public agenda for the sake of the research and economic development of the State of Israel.

The report on the state of science in Israel was submitted to the Ministerial Committee for Science and Technology of the Knesset and to the decision makers in the government.

For the full report on its appendices

Research and development in universities in Israel - expenditures for research with special funding, 2017

The Central Bureau of Statistics recently published a report that dealt with research and development at universities in Israel and mainly expenditures for research with special funding, 2017. The expenditure for research with special funding at universities in Israel in 2017 amounted to 2.4 billion NIS. The amount reflects a nominal increase of 3.1% compared to 2016.
And these are the findings of the report

  • The salary expenditure - NIS 1 billion - reflects a nominal increase of 5% compared to 2016, and deducting the average salary for a salaried position in universities, a real increase of 2.3%.
  • The expenditure for personnel - wages and scholarships - amounted to 1.221 billion NIS (51.4% of the total special budget). The rest of the expenses in the special budget were for: equipment, materials and laboratory services - 26% (617 million NIS), overhead and miscellaneous - 20.0% (475 million NIS), and transfers on account of previous years - 2.6% (64 million NIS ).
  • 53.1% of the budgets were raised by researchers from the natural sciences and mathematics, 18.4% - from engineering and architecture, 9.3% - from medicine, 7.2% - from the social sciences, 6.9% - from the humanities, 3.4% - from agriculture, 0.7% - from law and 1.0% - from the field of research Unknown .
  • 24.4% of the budgets were raised by researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 21.8% - from Tel Aviv University, 15.7% - from the Weizmann Institute of Science, 13.1% - from the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, 10.6% - from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, 7.2% - from Bar-Ilan University , 5.4% - from Haifa University and 1.6% - from Ariel University.

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