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December 31, 2019 11:57 am

Israel Can Be a World Leader in Personalized Medicine, IIA Chief Says

avatar by Meirav Crystal / CTech

Cardiac surgical procedure at Gemelli Hospital in Rome. Photo: Pfree2014 via Wikicommons.

CTech – Israel could be a world leader in personalized medicine, according to Aharon Aharon, the CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), the government’s tech investment arm. Aharon spoke Tuesday at Calcalist’s Forecasts 2020 conference held in Tel Aviv in collaboration with Bank Hapoalim and Israel-based Psagot Investment House.

“Israel has the capability to combine traditional chemistry-based medicine with medicine that is based on biological technologies,” Aharon said. “It has the intellectual property, the material, the articles, the researchers, the people. There is immense knowledge here in engineering, artificial intelligence, medical devices. The integration between all of that is our mission for the next 10 years,” he asserted, adding that the IIA is working on national plans to promote AI, 3D printing, and personalized medicine.

According to IIA data, the local tech industry has seen total investments of between $7 billion and $8 billion in 2019. Seven multinational research and development centers were opened in Israel in the first three quarters of the year, and the local industry saw exists with a combined worth of $16.5 billion. “Those are exists that drive the economy,” Aharon said. Calling the tech industry a growth engine, he said that 9% of all employees work in tech, up from the 8.3% seen throughout the past decade. As local companies become more mature, they no longer employ just R&D people but employees along the entire value chain, Aharon added. “13% of the gross domestic product comes from those 9%, and 86% of all Israeli manufacturing comes from tech.”

For every NIS 100 million (approximately $29 million) IIA invests, NIS 40 million (approximately $11.5 million) are repaid to Israel as royalties, Aharon said, adding that there are over 30 unicorns in Israel. “This creates a growth in the number of employees that are not R&D people. We have a shortage of developers. That is a good phenomenon, demonstrating that the Israeli economy is maturing.”

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