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Israel Science & Technology: Industrial Research & Development

In the rapidly growing industrial sector, civilian industrial R&D expenditures increased more than 13-fold between 1969 and 1985, while the number of scientists and engineers engaged in R&D increased almost 5-fold. Israel's industrial R&D is characterized by a high concentration in electronics (67 percent) as well as by the fact that most activities are carried out in a small number of large firms. Studies have shown that R&D-intensive companies have been the major source of growth of industrial employment and exports over the years.

Fostering the continued growth of such enterprises, both large and small, is the focus of Israel's industrial strategy. The government promotes R&D in industry within the framework of the Law for the Encouragement of Research and Development, which is implemented by the Chief Scientist's Office of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, which in 1996 alone funded some 1,200 projects in 800 companies. R&D related products are estimated today to comprise more than one half of total industrial exports (excluding diamonds).

Electronics, limited until the late 1960s mainly to consumer goods, has branched out into more sophisticated technological developments, both military and civilian. In communications, R&D-based applications include the digitalizing, processing, transmitting and enhancing of images, speech and data. Products range from advanced telephone exchanges to voice messaging systems and telephone line doublers.

Optics, electro-optics and lasers as industrial fields have been growing rapidly. Israel is aworld leader in fiber-optics, electro-optic inspection systems for printed circuit borads, thermal imaging night-vision systems and electro-optics-based robotic manufacturing systems.

Computer-based equipment, mostly in softward and peripheral fields, has been developed and is widely used. In printing and publishing, Israeli-made computer graphics and computer-based imaging systems are being used locally and abroad. Educational activities in schools are enhanced by a variety of computer-aided instructional systems, many of which have been developed for export. While some of Israel's software products are designed for use on mainframe computers, most have been developed for small or medium-sized systems such as computer workstations.

Robotics, first researched in the late 1970S, is now producing robots designed to perform a wide variety of tasks, including diamond polishing, welding, packing, building and other industrial functions. Research is now underway in the application of artificial intelligence to robots.

Aeronautics related to defense needs have generated technological development with consequent civilian spin-offs. The Arava, the first civilian aircraft to be produced in Israel, was followed by the Westwind executive jet. Recently, locally designed and manufactured satellites have been produced and launched by the Israel Aircraft Industries in cooperation with the Israel Space Agency. In addition, Israel develops, manufactures and exports a large number of related items, including display systems, aeronautical computers, instrumentation systems and flight simulators and is a world leader in the technology and production of drones.

Sources: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs