The cabinet voted on Sunday to establish a national technology innovation authority within the Economy Ministry, making the agency an operational arm of the Office of the Chief Scientist.
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The proposed establishment of such an authority had initially been developed prior to the March election by the last government, and was presented to the cabinet on Sunday by Economy Minister Arye Dery and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. The plan is an attempt to give maximum professional support and flexibility to government efforts to encourage technological innovation, complementing the major role that Israel already plays in the global high-tech sector.
Representatives of industry have expressed concern that the agency will become profit-oriented rather than meeting the goals set for it by law. For its part, however, the Economy Ministry said it will serve the government’s long-term goals relating to support for the high-tech sector and tie in more broadly to other sectors of the economy.
Among the government’s goals are injecting technological innovation in traditional industrial sectors that are not oriented toward research and development, enhancing research infrastructure, injecting innovations into the public sector and encouraging employment by underrepresented segments of the population into the technology sector. The last item is an apparent reference to ultra-Orthodox Jews and Israeli Arabs.