Biotech, nanotech to get preference for R&D grants

Chief Scientist Dr. Eli Opper: The are new, risky and lack resources. Circumstances justify intervention.

The R&D committee, headed by Chief Scientist Dr. Eli Opper, has declared biotechnology and nanotechnology as preferential sectors, being "the most innovative fields with great potential for Israel's industry and economy."

The declaration was partly influenced by Serono's (NYSE: SRA; SWX: SEO) decision a couple of months ago to close Interpharm Laboratories in Ness Ziona and not to build a new plant in Israel. Serono was the largest biotechnology company operating in Israel.

The wording of the new investment law being jointly prepared by the Ministries of Finance and Industry, Trade and Labor, also gives preference to biotechnology and nanotechnology companies' eligibility for grants and tax breaks, even without meeting the 25% export criteria.

Until now, R&D projects were primarily judged on the basis of quality and innovation, irrespective of the technology.

Opper said, "Biotechnology and nanotechnology are struggling to develop, because of they are new, risky and lack resources. The circumstances justify intervention."

A team of experts has been appointed to recommend ways to best implement the R&D committee's decision.

Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on November 16, 2004

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