Pharmaceutical and medical devices giant Abbott Laboratories yesterday inked a cooperation agreement with the Israeli government. The signing ceremony was held at the office of Benjamin Ben Eliezer, minister of Industry, Trade and Labor in Jerusalem, in the presence of Chief Scientist Eli Opper. Representing Abbott at the event was the senior vice president for diagnostics products, Edward Michael.

At the ceremony Michael said he was pleased at the opportunity to cooperate with the ministry on developing innovative technologies.

The deal is part of the ministry's set of global enterprise framework cooperation agreements with multinational companies, the aim of which is to boost Israeli startups.

The Chief Scientist's Office helps the foreign firms locate appropriate Israeli technologies and startups. Both the chief scientist and the multinationals provide funding to support the R&D by the Israeli company, in general. The multinationals may provide funds, and can provide the startup with facilities, technological guidance, equipment, labs, discounted licenses and mentoring.

The multinationals may also provide help with overseas marketing.

The Chief Scientist has similar agreements with 18 large multinationals, including IBM, Oracle, Merck, General Electric, Microsoft, HP, Renault-Nissan, Coca Cola and Deutsche Telekom.

Abbott has over 80,000 employees, is headquartered north of Chicago and has annual revenues of over $33 billion. The company employs 100 in Israel and sells about 35 products here. Abbott-Israel, which started operations in 2004, bought StarLIMS Technologies earlier this year for $123 million. StarLIMS developed software systems for laboratory management.