Innovation Authority earmarks NIS 20 million in grants to boost tech skills

Programs will enable Israel’s geographic periphery to get funds that could cover as much as 70% of training costs

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustrative image of a man using a laptop computer. (iStock by Getty Images/ Suradech14)
Illustrative image of a man using a laptop computer. (iStock by Getty Images/ Suradech14)

Israel’s Innovation Authority, in charge of setting out the nation’s tech policies and foster the tech ecosystem, is setting up a new fund for grants to boost workers’ skills and re-train others for research and development jobs. The fund was set up in light of the high unemployment rates wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund will get a total budget of  NIS 20 million ($5.9 million) in its first year of operation, the Innovation Authority said in a statement earlier this week.

“This period, in which hundreds of thousands of Israelis have found themselves unemployed, also provides an opportunity for the Israeli economy to retrain a portion of them for R&D positions in the high-tech industry,” said Aharon Aharon, the CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority in a statement.

The new fund aims to “re-skill” the qualifications of those with significant potential to contribute to the high-tech industry – with a focus on training job seekers for R&D positions – and upgrade the skills of current employees in the tech industry, to enable them to offer added value to their companies.

“The demand for high quality, skilled human capital continues to be a significant challenge for the Israeli high-tech industry’s efforts to innovate and maintain its competitive leadership position in the global market,” Aharon said.

The human capital development in high-tech fund hopes to “provide an appropriate response to today’s challenges as well as an incentive for corporations and non-profits to implement solutions for training human capital in the knowledge industries,” he said.

A skilled workforce is a key prerequisite for developing companies and for maintaining Israel’s high-tech industry as a growth engine for the economy, the statement said.

The Innovation Authority’s program will offer grants to training programs.

Proposals for funding will be assesed according to their ability to recruit highly-paid, skilled human resources into the industry, the cost/benefits of the program and the ability to recruit partners, the statement said

The assessment for funding will also put an emphasis on inclusiveness: does the program boost demographics currently under-represented in the high-tech industry – women, the Arab sector, the ultra-Orthodox sector, citizens of Ethiopian descent and those with disabilities and is it located in the nation’s geographic periphery.

The fund’s first call for proposals will be open for submissions from August to October 2020.

For programs costing up to 1 million shekels the Innovation Authority will provide grants to cover 50%, 60% or 70% of the budget of the approved program. For programs costing NIS 1 million to NIS 15 million, authority will contribute financing with grants equal to 30%, 40% or 50% of the budget.

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