Nanotechnology in Israel

Israel’s been making news lately for its nanotechnology effots. Israeli scientists came to visit Canada at an October 2010 Carleton University event which I previewed in my Sept. 24, 2010 posting. Lynne Cohen provides follow up information in her Nov. 3, 2010 article, Canada, Israel working together on nanotechnology, in the Jewish Tribune,

Relations between Canada and Israel just keep getting tighter. Two years ago, experts from both countries met, through computer video links, to discuss potential business ventures, including developing instruments for desalinating sea water to make it potable. Last year, Israeli and Canadian philatelists met face to face to launch a friendship stamp to celebrate 60 years of great relations between their two nations.

Last month [Oct. 4 & 5,2010], nanotechnologists from both places got together at Carleton University in Ottawa to study matter so small that it would be lost on the head of a pin.

There’s always a bit of puffery in these things (from the article),

Miriam Ziv, Israel’s ambassador to Canada, said, “Israeli research and innovation is world renowned and the potential benefits of an exchange of knowledge between Canada and Israel will be extremely valuable. I am confident that this workshop will not only enrich the research but also strengthen the friendship between our two countries.”

According to Kim Matheson, Carleton’s vice-president (research and international), “Carleton is known for its significant cutting-edge research in the field of nanotechnology,” and collaboration between scientists from both coubtriescould lead to great initiatives and cooperative ventures.

Cohen goes on to note that there were 40 participants.

Meanwhile, Israel too  has signed a deal (my Sept. 14 2010 posting about the Canada-RUSNANO venture capital project) with RUSNANO (Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies). From the Nov. 2, 2010 news item on Nanowerk,

RUSNANO announces tender results for selection of the Partner for joint establishment of Russian-Israeli investment fund which were summarized on 29th of October 2010. On the basis of the final scores made by the tender committee the best conditions for joint establishment of Russian-Israeli investment fund were proposed by the Myrtus Capital Ltd.

These activities come on the heels of a three-year investment in the Israel National Nanotechnology Initiative (from the Nov. 2, 2010 news item on Nanowerk,

A three-year support of nanotechnology as an Israeli national project has resulted in: 52 leading scientists have immigrated to Israel, 77 million dollars have been invested in equipment, 41 million dollars have been invested in infrastructure, 106 success stories have been documented and 389 Academy–Industry Projects have been achieved.

Based on data of the Israel National Nano–Technology Initiative – INNI – which has gathered on the occasion of Nano–Technology Week: NanoIsrael 2010 Conference and Exhibition being held next week [Nov. 8 – 9, 2010] in Tel Aviv, during the last three years since Nano–Technology has been declared an Israeli national priority project …

The approach they’ve taken in Israel provides a striking contrast with the Canadian approach (outlined in my Nov. 8, 2010 posting),

During this time, 389 cooperation transactions have been established between the Israel academy and the Industry (both local and foreign), 106 “success stories” have been documented, either as new start–up companies or as authorized patents, not to mention the 422 patents that were submitted for registration.

In 2007, the Israel Nano field was defined as a project that received governmental priority, and its mission was the installation of the research and structural infrastructure in six university premises. The selected universities were those in which the research dealing with establishing the industry based on Nano–Technology was going to be performed. A plan was based on three supporting entities: governmental support (one third), university resources (one third) and contributions (one third). Six Nano centers were established in different universities (the Technion center had already been established in 2005).

I don’t believe Canada could produce these kinds of figures about cooperative transactions and “success stories”  easily since each province seems to be in charge of its own, if any, nanotechnology efforts. There is national funding, as I noted Nov. 8, 2010, but multiple federal agencies are involved and the language used to describe the projects varies by agency.

Judy Seigel-Itzkovich in her Nov. 8, 2010 article in the Jerusalem Post provides this quote about the INNI,

“This is an excellent example for the efficient use of the public money and the mutual cooperation between the government, academy, and industry, which brings back significant return on investment,” said Dan Vilenski, a member of the national NanoIsrael committee.

“I believe that we are on the way to turn Israel into a leading nanotechnology country.”

Israel’s nanotechnolog conference ended yesterday but here’s a little taste of what they had on offer (from the Nov. 9, 2010 news item on Nanowerk,

A material just one atom thick that is stronger than steel but flexes like rubber. A “mini-submarine” that can trick the immune system and deliver a payload of chemotherapy deep inside a tumour.

They sound like the fantasies of science fiction writers, but they are among the discoveries being presented at Nano Israel 2010, a nanotech conference in Tel Aviv that has attracted researchers from across the science world, united by their work with the very, very small.

The 1,500 participants at the two-day meeting which ends on Tuesday include chemists, physicists and medical researchers, all working with tiny structures around the thickness of a cell wall.

“We are all working to be able to manipulate molecules at an atomic level,” said Dan Peer, a professor at Tel Aviv University’s Cell Research and Immunology Department.

Good luck, Israel!

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