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Israel Broadens Matching Funds Program for University-Based Nanotech Research Centers

by Editor1 last modified July 18, 2007 - 15:21

Donation matching 3:1 model is intended to strengthen Israel’s global leadership in nanoscience and nanotechnology research and development - The Israeli government will increase funding for Israeli universities over the next 5 years to $82 million in order to strengthen their advanced research centers in nanoscience and nanotechnology.

Israel Broadens Matching Funds Program for University-Based Nanotech Research Centers

Israel’s National Nanotechnology Initiative (INNI) director Dan Vilenski announced the funding increase at the 10th annual Journey 2006 technology conference, noting that the increase resulted in large part from the success of a similar matching fund model
developed for the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology in 2005.
 
“We found that multiple donation matching can work very well for an Israeli nanotechnology center,” Vilenski said. “By extending this model to the nanotech centers at other Israeli universities, we see the possibility of maintaining our recognized leadership in advanced nanotech research.”

The new program provides 3-to-1 matching funds for all private donations to nanotech centers, effectively producing over $230 million in new funding for Israeli nanotech centers through 2011. The program creates a ‘funding triangle’ consisting of the source
donor, the university and the Israeli government, where each contributor has explicit input over how matched funding will be used.
 
In addition to matching funds, the Israeli government will also provide over $8 million for nanotech-related equipment purchases and for advanced research projects in water treatment using nanotechnology.

Dr. Eli Opper, Chief Scientist in Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, and a strong proponent of Israel’s nanotechnology initiative, commended the many government and university representatives who have brought the triangle concept through a year-long process of approval.

"This is a very significant amount of money for Israeli nanotech research, Dr. Opper said. It’s especially effective because we’re taking a very innovative approach that encourages collaboration and focuses on our most outstanding researchers. It’s an excellent fit for Israel.”

The triangle donation matching program will give preference to funding research in areas considered to have the strongest potential for Israeli breakthroughs: nanomaterials, nanobiotechnology, nanoelectronics, and nanotech for applications in water treatment and alternative energy.

Matching funds will be granted primarily for research projects and personnel, and not for construction. All universities are eligible for program funding, though a five-year ceiling amount has been set for each university, based on its existing and planned nanotech
capabilities.

Detailed program guidelines have been developed collaboratively over the last year by the INNI together with the Forum for National Infrastructures for Research & Development (TELEM), Israel’s Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of
Finance. The INNI will also manage an international advisory committee to evaluate matching fund applications and provide advice on professional and scientific issues.  With the $55.5 million increase in matching funds to become available from 2006,
Israel’s nanotech centers stand to be among the world’s best funded, as well as the most respected.

“Worldwide, nanotech research will be more and more competitive in the next ten years,” Opper summarized. “We believe that this new funding model will make the critical difference for Israel. It will help us to retain and attract the most outstanding researchers
and to produce the most valuable research.”

Along with Vilenski and Dr. Opper, Israel’s national nanotechnology program has benefited from the vision and leadership of many others, especially Prof. Jacob Ziv, chairman of TELEM Forum and a 1995 Marconi Fellow, and Dr. Dan Maydan, chairman of the INNI and president emeritus of the multinational company Applied Materials, Inc.