June 25, 2010
Today – 25th June 2010 – Israel officially became Chair of the rotating presidency of the EUREKA Network. The handover from Germany took place in Berlin at the annual Ministers Conference.
To accept the chair, Israeli Minister for Industry, Trade and Labour, Binjamin Ben Eliezer addressed the conference about his hopes for the coming year.
He highlighted the vital role of innovation and technological development to Israel. As a small country with a lack of local trading partners and even fewer natural resources to be exploited, the early move into the knowledge economy and high-tech areas have served them well. When combined with the fact that Europe is Israel’s largest trading partner, the coming twelve months offer a golden opportunity.
And they plan to use it! Five conferences are planned, starting in Tel Aviv in October and culminating in Jerusalem in June 2011. There is a clear desire build new partnerships and strategic opportunities wherever they may be found.
This desire for new opportunities will reach further afield than EUREKA is accustomed to. An important role of the chair is to assist in the negotiations to bring new member countries into the club. Germany announced today that Bulgaria has become a full member. As a member of the EU 27, it was simply a matter of time until Bulgaria joined.
In contrast, Minister Ben Eliezer today announced his plans to forge new links with South America and to work towards bringing Egypt into the group as well.
With such large efforts already well underway to develop new products and technologies (unlike the EU, Israel already spends nearly 5% of GDP on research and development annually), it seems likely that the desire for opportunities with South America is part of a wider goal to open new markets for product sales.
This ambition is part of a clearly visible urgency towards action and monetisation that Israel brings to the Chair. With the global economy suffering as it is, and the EU facing the prospect of another round of unmet innovation investment targets, this urgency may be just what is needed.Author : EUREKA