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12 January 2017

EU - Israel Research and innovation cooperation - 20 years of success, partnership and friendship

Photo from the event
Robert-Jan Smits, Director General of DG RTD and Avi Hasson, Chair of Israel Innovation Authority. © Shai Ashkenazi

The Jerusalem Theatre was the venue for an extraordinary conference on January 10 when hundreds of Israeli researchers and officials gathered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Israel's association to the EU Framework Programme. Leading the EU's delegation to the event was Robert-Jan Smits, Director-General of the European Commission`s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. The event was organized jointly by the EU Delegation to the State of Israel and ISERD - The Europe - Israel R&D Directorate and was financially supported by DG Research and Innovation.

Israel was the first non-European country to be associated to the EU Framework Programme back in 1996. Its participation in the EU Framework Programme has been a success story and represents an added value both for Israel and for the EU. Over the past 20 years of partnership, overall Israeli investment amounted to €1.375 billion, while the return to Israeli entities in the form of grants reached €1.7 billion. Over 3,000 projects submitted by Israeli entities were approved involving 4,435 participants. Of these, 2,450 were academic researchers, 1,270 were industrial researchers, and 715 researchers from other sectors.

Israel’s excellence in the programme has been especially notable in the European Research Council grants for outstanding researchers doing ground-breaking research, grants in the ICT, water, health sectors and many others.

In his remarks, Robert-Jan Smits said that, "The EU and Israel research and innovation cooperation represents 20 years of success, partnership and friendship. What has been achieved during these years is impressive. The Israeli and EU scientists have built sustainable partnerships and worked together on many challenges ranging from child tumours, smart irrigation to robotics and science education, advancing in this way the frontiers of knowledge and contributing to the well-being of our citizens".

Also addressing the conference, EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen noted that, "Our scientific cooperation is the jewel in the crown of our relations and one that is a model for the type of close relations we hope will continue and which we would like to see in more fields in the future".

In a video message of congratulations, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said: "In today's global world, we know very well that the development of science and technology must be done by collaboration across borders with a wide approach in a range of fields with the spirit of sharing experience and building on direct relations between researchers from different regions, religions and cultures."

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Policy Dialogue

The European Union and Israel share a long common history, marked by growing interdependence and cooperation. Israeli political, industrial, commercial and scientific leaders maintain close links to Europe. Over five decades of trade, cultural exchanges, political cooperation and a developed system of agreements have cemented these relations.

The legal framework for EU-Israel relations is provided by the EU-Israel "Association Agreement" PDF icon signed in Brussels, on 20 November 1995, and following ratification by the 15 Member States parliaments, the European Parliament and the Knesset, entered into force on 1 June 2000. It replaces the earlier Cooperation Agreement of 1975. The Association Agreement established two main bodies for dialogue. The EU-Israel Association Council, held at ministerial level and the EU-Israel Association Committee, held at the level of senior officials. In addition, ten sub-committees, including one on research, innovation, information society, education and culture, were established under the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan PDF icon.

The EU and Israel have a long history of successful scientific and technological cooperation

Israel has been associated to the EU Research and Technological Development Framework Programmes since 1996. The agreement on Israel's participation in Horizon 2020 programme was signed on 8 June 2014.

Israel has been very successful in the Framework Programmes with thousands of Israeli researchers and entrepreneurs cooperating with their European and international counterparts building networks, pushing the boundaries of science and developing innovation products.

In 2016, the EU Delegation and ISERD, the national coordinator, will be holding a series of events celebrating 20 years of Israeli association to the Framework Programmes.

Israel also has a number of agreements with the European Commission's Joint Research Centre. These include agreements with Israeli companies working on subjects such as early warning systems in case of natural disasters. In 2012, a five year Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Israel Ministry of Energy and Water Resources to deepen their scientific cooperation in the fields of energy, with a particular focus on clean energy, and water desalination.

Israel has been a full member of EUREKA since 2000 and served as its chairman from July 2010 to June 2011. Israel placed the focus of its chairmanship on empowering Eureka as a major innovation platform in the European Research Areas and on developing concrete benefits for the industrial participants of Eureka.

Israel is a cooperating state in COST which facilitates coordination and exchanges between nationally funded scientists and research teams. Israel participates in about 30% of its actions.

Israeli RDI Interlocutors

The main interlocutor for the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (currently Horizon 2020) is ISERD, the Israel-Europe R&D Directorate, which serves as the national coordinator. ISERD is an inter-ministerial directorate, established by the Ministry of Economy and Industry, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space, the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ISERD is also the main interlocutor for all other European industrial research cooperation.

The interlocutor for basic and applied science cooperation is the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space which hosts the Israeli portal of EURAXESS – Researchers in Motion.




In FP7, Israel participated in 1,626 signed agreements involving 1,984 Israeli participations for which they received a total of EUR 876.839 million.

Israel's strongest areas of participation were the European Research Council grants for cutting edge research which represented 46% of funds received by Israel, and ICT (Information and Communications Technology) which represented 15%. The other areas that make up the bulk of Israel's participation are Health (7%), Joint Technology Initiatives (5%) Nanotechnology (5%) and the Marie Curie Actions which focus on mobility for researchers (8%). Israel's main Member State partners in FP7 were Germany, the UK, France, Italy and Spain. Almost 70% of the FP7 funding goes to institutes of higher education. FP7 became the first source of competitive public funding for civilian R&D in Israel.

Horizon 2020

So far, Israel is participating in 310 signed agreements involving 369 participations for which they will receive a total of €203,875 million. The breakdown of funding received so far is similar to that of FP7. European Research Council grants accounting for 47% of the Horizon 2020 funding received. 23% of the funding has gone to LEIT (Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies) projects. 64% of the total funding has gone to institutes of higher education. Israel's main collaborators remain Germany, France, Spain, the UK and Italy.

Some examples:

    SNIFF PHONE - Screening for Cancer Made Easy (Horizon 2020)
    The SNIFFPHONE project, coordinated by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology will link the researcher’s breathalyser screening technology to the smartphone to provide non-invasive, fast and cheap disease recognition..

    Securing internet routing from the ground up (Horizon 2020)
    This Hebrew University ERC grant aims to lead to a more secure Internet in the short-run, and outline a promising, yet uncharted, new direction for the future of Internet routing.

    TRANSFORM OPTICS - Transformation optics: cloaking, perfect imaging and horizons (Horizon 2020)
    The objective of this Weizmann Institute ERC grant is to make significant breakthroughs in (1) moving cloaking from frontier research closer to practicality, (2) turning perfect imaging into a viable technology and (3) demonstrating the quantum physics of the event horizon in the laboratory.

    ENGINEER BrEaking New Ground IN the SciencE Education Realm (FP7)
    Coordinated by Israel's Bloomfield Science Museum, ENGINEER aimed to transform the teaching of science education in primary schools in Europe by introducing engineering as a discipline that is inherently inquiry-based and problem-focused, and yet usually overlooked in the teaching of sciences.



20 years, 1996-2016


European Commission
DG Research and Innovation
Tanya Dimitrova
Policy Officer - Egypt and Middle East region: Israel, Jordan, OPT, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria
Unit RTD C.3 European Neighbourhood, Africa and the Gulf
Telephone: (+32) 229 59847

Tanya Dimitrova
Delegation of the European Union to the State of Israel
Alexandra Meir
Policy Officer – Research and Innovation
Paz Tower, 3-5 Shoham Street,
Ramat Gan, Israel
Alexandra Meir