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On Thursday, Israel will assume the revolving presidency of the pan-European Eureka program, one of the biggest collaborative research and development initiatives in the world. Israel has been a member of Eureka since 2000, and Israeli companies participate in over 10% of the organization's projects.

Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said the presidency was European recognition of Israel's exceptional capabilities in R&D. Scientists, heads of large companies and senior officials are on their way to Israel in large numbers,he said.

As president, Israel will host five events here during the coming year for Eureka members. This year will mark the 25th anniversary of the program.

Israel will officially receive the presidency on Thursday at the group's meeting in Berlin, and Eureka will also approve 150 new projects, 23 of which include Israeli participation.

Eureka does not partake in military research and follows a "bottom-up" approach, in which firms decide which projects should be developed.