Israel earmarks NIS 113 million to build R&D center for chip-based biodevices

Israel Innovation Authority will fund R&D infrastructure for the development of biodevices such as environmental diagnostic sensors and smart implants for medical treatment

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative image: cancer cells against a backdrop of DNA (Mohammed Haneefa Nizamudeen via iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image: cancer cells against a backdrop of DNA (Mohammed Haneefa Nizamudeen via iStock by Getty Images)

Israel is allocating NIS 113 million ($31 million) in funds for a new research and development center to boost the nation’s edge in the intersection of biology with other sciences for medical tech purposes.

The Israel Innovation Authority, in charge of the nation’s technology policies, on Wednesday announced the tender for the establishment of the center that will provide R&D infrastructure needed by startups to build biodevices based on biochips. The tender is part of Israel’s national bio-convergence program.

Bio-convergence is a growing industry that integrates biology with additional disciplines from engineering such as electronics, artificial intelligence, physics, computer science, nanotechnology, material science and advanced genetic engineering, in a bid to meet global health challenges. Biochips are advanced microdevices that combine biology, engineering and microtechnology.

The miniature chips integrate multiple laboratory functions onto a single platform and are capable of analyzing biological samples, including cells, proteins, or DNA, as well as perform biological reactions such as decoding genes, similar to a computer chip performing a multitude of mathematical tasks. They are used in fields such as healthcare, diagnostics and pharmaceutical research for DNA sequencing, drug development, diagnosis and monitoring of biological processes, and more.

The Israel Innovation Authority has found that companies interested in developing biodevices based on biochips require knowledge in a wide range of sectors and multidisciplinary fields from biology, engineering and software, which is very costly and thus a hindrance to the development process.

“The field of bio-convergence has great potential to be a growth engine and a source of diversification for Israeli industry,” said Israel Innovation Authority CEO Dror Bin. “As a world leader in technology and innovation, it is crucial that Israel stays ahead in a constantly changing technological landscape and amidst fierce global competition.”

Illustrative: A scientist in a genetic testing lab (iStock)

As part of the tender, the Israel Innovation Authority is calling on companies to submit proposals to get funding to build R&D infrastructure needed to develop chip-based biodevices used for applications such as environmental diagnostic sensors, smart implants for treatment and diagnostics, lab-on-chip and organ-on-chip technologies.

The funding will be given to companies and organizations who can provide services in areas including chip manufacturing infrastructure, software tools, analysis equipment, wet labs and bioprinting infrastructure to support the research, development, prototyping and validation of biodevices.

“This tender is of great significance, not only in terms of the substantial budget, but also in its ability to promote this sector,” said Bin. “Eventually, we are looking to establish a unique and internationally renowned center that will drive the Israeli ecosystem forward and foster the emergence of a new sector within the country’s thriving high-tech industry.”

The center is expected to have equipment and researchers from multiple disciplines working together to provide R&D services to Israeli startups and academic research institutes.

Israel has identified bio-convergence as a national R&D priority.

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