Israel picks new chief scientist to steer innovation policies
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Innovator-in-Chief

Israel picks new chief scientist to steer innovation policies

Ami Appelbaum, with a career in industry and defense, to serve as the next chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority

Israel's Minister of Economy and Industry, Eli Cohen, left, and Ami Appelbaum, chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority and Chief Scientist of the ministry (Courtesy: Ministry of Economy Spokesperson Office)
Israel's Minister of Economy and Industry, Eli Cohen, left, and Ami Appelbaum, chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority and Chief Scientist of the ministry (Courtesy: Ministry of Economy Spokesperson Office)

Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry, Eli Cohen, has chosen Ami Appelbaum, a former president of KLA-Tencor Israel, to serve as the next chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority and as the Chief Scientist of the ministry.

Appelbaum will be tasked with managing the government’s support and incentives schemes to promote innovation in the local industry and setting out the nation’s innovation policies.

The Innovation Authority, formerly known as the Office of the Chief Scientist, was rebranded in 2016 and aims to boost the local innovation ecosystem and the Israeli economy by ensuring it is globally competitive and by improving productivity in the industry through technological innovation.

The authority is an independent and impartial public entity that manages a yearly budget of NIS 1.6 billion ($452 million).

Appelbaum has 35 years’ experience as a scientist, entrepreneur, business administrator, operational and technological manager at Israel’s Defense Ministry; as a manager of technological development and engineering at US conglomerate Rockwell International and, for the past six years, he has served as the president of KLA-Tencor Israel, the local arm of the $12 billion global semiconductor manufacturer. At his post, Appelbaum led the expansion of the KLA-Tencor sales in Israel from $30 million to its current annual sales of $500 million, the authority said in a statement announcing the appointment.

Appelbaum’s appointment is expected to become effective this week. He will be working as a team with the CEO of the authority, Aharon Aharon, who is the former CEO of Apple Israel. Aharon was appointed to the post in December last year.

“Appelbaum’s experience in production and export as part of an international corporation in Israel can play a crucial role in encouraging additional companies to move from R&D to production,” said Cohen in the statement. Appelbaum and Aharon, who come from different backgrounds in the high-tech industry, “will complement one another,” he said.

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