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Israel Launches $18 Million Digital Investment Program to Supercharge Healthcare R&D

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Illustrative: Israeli researcher Lena Neufeld examines a 3D model of a malignant tumor, as part of a brain cancer research that uses patients’ cells to make 3D printed models of tumors, at Tel Aviv University, Israel August 17, 2021. Picture taken August 17, 2021. REUTERS/Nir Elias

Israel has announced an $18 million initiative to help health organizations digitize and forge collaborations with the tech industry, as the country pushes digital health as a major economic growth engine.

“The coronavirus pandemic intensified the necessity of the development of innovative solutions for the health system, and this new program will expand the scope of collaborations between companies in this field and Israeli health organizations,” said Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry, Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai on Wednesday. “The new program is designed to create digital infrastructure to help the growth of startups in this field, to promote Israel to the forefront of customized medicine research, and to implement advanced digital tools in the Israeli health system, for the benefit of the general Israeli population.”

Led by the Israel Innovation Authority, the Ministry of Health, and the National Digital Israel Initiative, the program will distribute grants of up to $2.5 million to individual health organizations.

“Israeli health organizations have recently demonstrated impressive capabilities to embrace and implement innovation at a fast pace and adapt to a new world. We want to further strengthen and nurture this capability,” said Israel’s Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz. “Israel can definitely lead in the implementation of innovation in the health system; however, this requires investment in research infrastructure and dedicated manpower.”

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“Israeli health organizations are a source of strength to the Israeli economy, and this is clear today to the Israeli government as well,” Horowitz added.

The Jewish state has in recent years become world-leading in the digitization of health care and the use of artificial intelligence in fields, including medical imaging analysis, big data analytics of population groups and electronic health records. All of these have been assets in the country’s fight against COVID-19, particularly its rapid vaccination campaign.

“We have all seen the importance of the medical data infrastructure during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Israel Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, Orit Farkash Hacohen. “Promoting medical data infrastructure in Israel will progress science and technology towards the challenges of the future and promote life-saving, customized medicine.”

Investments supported by the project could include virtual research, data optimization, smarter use of data in clinical trials, and the digital linking of data directly from a clinic’s files to the entrepreneur’s.

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