US fund to set up $78m nanotech fund

The Ministry of Industry Trade and Labor will finance a third of the fund.

Speaking at R&D 2005, the annual high-tech industry R&D conference sponsored by the Office of the Chief Scientist, at Tel Aviv University today, Minister of Industry Trade and Labor Ehud Olmert said a US fund would establish a $78 million fund for nanotechnology at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. He said the Ministry of Industry would provide a third of the amount.

"The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor is ready to cooperate with any research institute that finds external sources of investment," said Olmert. He added he would try to cancel the planned cut in the Chief Scientist's budget to NIS 900 million in 2005 from NIS 1.3 billion in 2004. "While many countries around the world, including India, China, Singapore, Germany and Ireland, are adopting strategies to for encouraging intensive growth in industrial R&D, we are energetically cutting support. We must restore the Chief Scientist's budget to its level of three years ago."

Olmert briefed the conference participants on his talks with US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick concerning intellectual property of pharmaceuticals. "We're investing in expanding global cooperation, including with pharmaceutical companies, and we won't agree to sell the legitimate interests of Israeli industry just to keep up the appearance of pleasant relations between Israel and the US."

Olmert said the government would amend the Law for the Encouragement of Industrial R&D to allow the movement of know-how to and from Israel. "The disadvantages likely to emerge from overprotecting the export of know-how will harm our ability to develop Israeli markets."

Olmert said he hoped that the amendments to the R&D Law would pass by the end of the year, since the current law was a real barrier to foreign investment in Israel and the establishment of R&D and export centers by multinational companies.

Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on December 2, 2004

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