Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On today announced a stimulus plan for the high-tech and biotechnology sectors. The Ministry of Finance will allocate an additional NIS 150 million to the Office of the Chief Scientist, which will all be invested in the first quarter of 2009. This allocation is explicitly designed to provide an immediate response to the crisis in financing for promising R&D companies, which due to the global credit crisis are struggling to find funding sources.
The new NIS 150 million allocation will be added to the Office of the Chief Scientist's regular annual budget of NIS 1.2 billion. However, because the government's 2009 budget has yet to be approved, the Chief Scientist is only permitted an allocation of NIS 100,000 per month.
This is in addition to the extra NIS 200,000 allocated to the Chief Scientist in the Ministry of Finance's previous stimulus plan, which was approved by the Knesset Finance Committee in December 2008.
The Ministry of Finance will also allocate NIS 250 million for the setting up of a fund specializing in biotechnology investments. The fund will be leveraged by the private sector and will reach a total of between NIS 750 million and 1 billion. The fund will be managed by an experienced management body with expertise in the biotech R&D sector. The new fund's investments are expected to enable the sector to realize its potential and provide employment opportunities for university graduates, and an estimated 600 Israelis returning from abroad.
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