Israel is among the closest international partners of the United States when it comes to scientific and technological research, according to the U.S.-Israel Innovation Index released last week by the U.S.-Israel Science & Technology Foundation (USISTF).
“It’s designed to be a measuring tool,” said Ann Liebschutz, executive director for the USISTF.
To create that tool, the index measured four different indicators of research and development related to international cooperation including how the governments and private industries work together, human capital and the cooperation of research and development.
“Israel has a lot invested in research and development relative to its GDP,” said Arnold Brenner, a member of the USISTF board and former executive director of the group.
The USISTF focuses on the U.S. and Israel but, for the index to make any sense, it required the context of other countries as well. Of the 16 countries measured in the index, Israel ranked third in the overall measurement behind only Switzerland and Canada as a partner to the U.S. in research. What is impressive about Israel’s score, Liebschutz and Brenner said, is how the country is ranked so high without having the native size and proximity advantages of Canada.
“Israel’s score is really comparable to Canada,” Liebschutz said.
As for Switzerland, its score reflected the level of human capital invested in the pharmaceutical industry in that country.
“Most of the data was not particularly surprising,” Brenner said. “But Switzerland really stood out.”
The other countries included in the Index spanned the globe, including Germany, South Korea, Brazil and Russia.
Liebschutz explained that the index was only the first step of the process, with comparisons over a longer period of time providing a way to measure actual trends between countries and generate ideas for the future.
“It provides an opportunity for correction and improvement,” she said.
Generally speaking, however, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is remarkably strong in every measurement, Liebschutz and Brenner said. In both the public and private sectors’ efforts to advance science and technology, there was a strong chance that groups in one country would turn to collaborators in the other.
“We’ll continue to try to keep these relationships close,” Brenner said.
Groups like the Maryland/Israel Development Center work to make partnerships between Israeli companies and American investors, and many American companies turn to Israel for development work, something that became clear in the measurements. That said, of the four indicators, Israel beat every other country when it came to cooperation between governments for the pursuit of new research and technology.
“As a member of the Science, Space, and Technology committee, I see tremendous potential in partnering with an ally like Israel in research and development,” said Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) in a statement. “The partnership provides great benefits, not only for cost sharing and product development, but in providing new markets for U.S. technology. The U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Foundation has done great work with their Innovation Index. It is enlightening to see all the economic potential on which the United States may capitalize by working closely with countries across the globe.”
The data from the index will give the USISTF a lot of information on how best to encourage the relationship between Israel and the U.S. in the field of innovation, but the narrative apparent already is that when it comes to science and technology research, the U.S. and Israel will likely have a shared stake.
“We knew there would be a good story to tell,” Liebschutz said.