Israel seeks edge at intersection of biology with engineering, AI

Israel Innovation Authority announces NIS 13.5 million ($3.9 million) bio-convergence program to fund multidisciplinary medical projects with commercial potential

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

Aharon Aharon, CEO of Israel Innovation Authority, at a conference in Tel Aviv (Courtesy Ofer Vaknin)
Aharon Aharon, CEO of Israel Innovation Authority, at a conference in Tel Aviv (Courtesy Ofer Vaknin)

Israel is setting up a new NIS 13.5 million ($3.9 million) program to boost the nation’s edge in the intersection of biology with other sciences for medical purposes.

The Israel Innovation Authority, in charge of the nation’s technology policies, said Thursday it is calling on researchers in the academia, hospitals and commercial firms to submit proposals to get funding for the development of bio-convergence programs.

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

The idea is to boost the commercial applications of bio-convergence technologies, said Aharon Aharon, the CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority, in a statement on Thursday, as he announced the nation’s first such program in the field.

“Given that bio-convergence is still a burgeoning technological field, most relevant expertise in the area remains concentrated in academic institutions,” Aharon said. “This synthesis of academia and industry is part of an overall attempt to develop an innovative ecosystem that will be an engine of growth for Israeli industry.”

The funding will be given to multidisciplinary teams working on projects that include researchers from the field of life sciences, engineering, computer sciences, math, or physics.

“Bio-convergence has immense potential to transform technology and industry,” the statement said, and seeing that Israel’s ecosystem “is strongly positioned in these fields,” the nation can leverage its research capabilities to build “a leading competitive international cluster,” the statement said.

The call for proposals from academia and industry aims to set up the conditions to foster the growth of the field in Israel, and “to build a competitive, world-leading industry with significant economic impact.”

The proposals must be submitted by September 21, 2020, at 12 p.m. Israel time, the statement said.

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