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Israel Cabinet Ministries: Ministry of Science & Technology

Qiryat Hamemshala East, Bldg. C
P.O. Box 18195, 91181 Jerusalem
Tel. (02) 5411111

(Source: Israel Government Year Book)


Functions and Structure

The Ministry of Science and Technology works to consolidate, improve, and expand basic, applied, and technological research. The Ministry advises the Government and other ministries on matters of science and technology, and works to exploit the country's scientific potential, both at home and in the international sphere, and to apply this knowledge to regional development and population dispersal. The Minister of Science and Technology chairs the ministerial committee on science and technology, to which matters of general governmental concern are referred.

A professional unit is charged with each field of science and coordinates the Ministry's scientific activities in that field. These fields are: life sciences, exact sciences, computer sciences, social sciences, R&D policy and financing, and archaeology. In addition to the professional staff of these units, the Ministry relies on 10 to 15 scientific advisors for matters that require specific expertise. In research domains that have been identified as having potential for the national economy, the Ministry runs steering committees that include renowned scientists and developers, in order to draft national programs for R&D in those fields. Such committees are active in biotechnology, medicine, superconductors, and other fields.

National Council for Research and Development

This is a public body appointed by the Government on the recommendation of the Minister of Science and Technology. Its plenum includes senior representatives of government ministries (including all Ministry chief scientists), the universities, scientific institutes, business and industry, and renowned scientists selected on the basis of their academic and public status.

Its main tasks include: (a) scientific advice to the government on scientific issues of national importance, particularly those concerning the national scientific infrastructure; (b) scientific guidance for the activities of the Ministry of Science, particularly with regard to the selection of priority research areas; (c) providing a forum for information exchanges and coordinating the R&D policy of various government and public bodies responsible for promoting R&D.

Israel Space Agency

The Israel Space Agency (ISA) was established by Government decision in 1983 to pursue the following aims: (a) devising an Israeli space program; (b) coordinating Israeli efforts in space matters; (c) initiating and promoting basic and applied research in space sciences; (d) attracting high-tech Israeli industry to developing and manufacturing components and systems for space projects; (e) fostering ties with parallel agencies and institutions abroad; (f) conducting educational and information activities regarding space. The ISA is guided by a council composed of scientists, industry experts, and government officials.

Research Foundations Division

The Division manages the foundations and programs to encourage research in the various fields of Ministry activity. It publishes agency development programs; accepts research proposals; manages research project selection procedure and concludes contractual agreements related to research grants. These foundations include: (a) the Research Encouragement Foundation, to promote research in priority areas; (b) the Levi Eshkol Fellowships, granted to doctoral candidates and postdoctoral fellows in Israeli universities and research institutions, in disciplines where there is a need to foster research personnel; (c) foundations to promote cooperation between researchers in Israel and abroad, under scientific cooperation agreements between Israel and other countries and international organizations.

International Scientific Relations Division

This Division implements Israel's scientific cooperation accords with other countries and international organizations. The Ministry, in concert with the Foreign Ministry, handles Israel's international scientific links at the governmental level. Ties exist with 30 countries and international organizations, and some 20 accords have been signed, concerning joint research projects, exchange of researchers, and joint scientific symposia.

Database of Government and Public-Sector Research Grants

This computerized database centralizes information on research projects being carried out in Israel with government or public funding. The database, which covers some 50 funds and programs for sponsoring research, has accumulated information on 20,000 projects carried out since 1983. Data can be retrieved according to various filters and criteria, in order to provide information to permit assessment of government and public activities in promoting and planning R&D, and in order to increase coordination between the various government and public agencies involved in funding R&D so as to avoid duplication of effort.

Unit for Absorbing Scientific Manpower

The Unit was established in the summer of 1989 as part of the Ministry's preparations for absorbing immigration. The Unit has devised a number of plans for funding research by immigrant scientists and had already begun to implement them when the mass wave of immigration began in early 1990.

Affiliated Institutions and Bodies

Weizmann Publications Institution: The Institution is a government corporation that cooperates with the institutes of higher education. It publishes scientific journals in mathematics, mathematical analysis, chemistry, zoology, and botany. The articles published in the journals are received from researchers in Israel and abroad. Each scientific journal has a circulation of 300-800 copies, distributed to libraries throughout the world. In addition to the scientific journals in English, two popular science magazines are published in Hebrew, La-da'at and Meda, targeted respectively at young people and the general public. These journals survey the achievements of Israeli and world science; their circulation is 6,000-8,000 copies.

The Institute for Applied Social Research has the following tasks: (a) planning and implementing research in psychology, social psychology, sociology, economics, and related topics and providing policy-makers with up-to-date information on topics of major importance to the country; (b) advising and guiding government, public, and private agencies and helping to improve their methodologies so as to permit optimum selection of current actions as well as medium- and long-term goal-setting and planning; (c) reinforcing, promoting, and improving the caliber of social research in Israel; (d) conducting regular surveys on topical issues and determining public opinion on such questions.

Sources: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs