During a visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), Science Minister Sam Gyimah signed new landmark agreements which will boost innovation and academic and scientific collaboration between the UK and Israel.
The two new agreements in science and innovation will focus on improvements around ageing and artificial intelligence (AI), two of the government’s four Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges. Working with partners in Israel, the UK will look to develop new technologies and opportunities in these areas to ensure we take advantage of these major global changes.
Science Minister, Sam Gyimah, said: “The UK has a strong science and innovation relationship with Israel and this week I have signed two landmark agreements which will take this to the next level. There are so many strategic opportunities for these two innovation power houses. Increased collaboration will help to realise this potential.
“Many of the challenges we face, from an ageing society to disruption caused by AI and Big Data, are felt around the world. With our commitment to embrace the opportunities of these through our Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges, we need to work with our international partners, like Israel, to ensure we take advantage of these global changes and improve people’s lives for the better.”
The government to government innovation agreement, signed with the Israel Innovation Authority, is being supported by a multi-year £4 million bilateral programme. The programme, receiving £2 million of funding from each country, will be led by Innovate UK and will support developing new innovative ideas in a number of areas, including artificial intelligence and advanced materials.
Minister of Economy and Industry, Mr. Eli Cohen, said: “Israel is recognised as the ‘start-up nation’ with more start-ups per capita than anywhere but Silicon Valley, an established entrepreneurial culture and hundreds of multinationals looking for innovation here. Collaboration with Israeli innovation ecosystem will help UK enterprises unlock the potential of integrating innovating technology to transform their business.
This agreement will help drive economic growth in both countries. The goal is to create partnerships in which British companies help Israeli innovations go global and Israeli innovation gives British companies a global competitive edge.
During the visit, Sam Gyimah also officially announced the opening of the new Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership (BIRAX) which focuses on exploring the ageing process and helping companies and researchers come up with new and innovative treatments. This will help support the Ageing Society Grand Challenge where the UK will harness the power of innovation to meet the needs of an ageing society.
Through the modern Industrial Strategy, the government aims to make the UK the world’s most innovative nation by 2030 and the Minister’s visit to Israel was an opportunity for the two countries to unlock opportunities for start-ups and large businesses and boost their innovation capability so both countries can be at the forefront of new technologies that will benefit the economy and create jobs.
The Science Minister also visited the Occupied Palestinian Territories where he confirmed the number of scholarships being offered through the British Council’s Higher Education Scholarship Palestine (HESPAL) is increasing this year. This increase will enable the next generation of senior academics at Palestinian universities develop and enhance links between Palestinian and UK universities.
As part of the visit, the minister also announced: “Through the Rutherford Fund, Northumbria University has partnered with An-Najah National University enabling three early career researchers, specialising in civil society and citizenship, to join Northumbria’s expert research team for a year.
The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) within UKRI will support 40 students to take part in a CERN Summer Student Programme, two of which will go to Palestinian students.