Business in Brief

Chief scientist publishes tender for new biotechnology incubator

The Chief Scientist's Office in the Industry, Trade and Employment Ministry published a tender yesterday to choose a new operator for a biotechnology incubator. The new incubator will replace the present biotechnology incubator in Jerusalem, run by Bioline Innovations, in which Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is a shareholder. The new operator will manage the incubator for eight years. A central requirement of the new tender is that one of the main shareholders be a large multinational firm that conducts research, development and manufacturing in the life sciences, and in particular biotechnology. (Ora Coren )

Indonesia talking cyber cooperation with Israel

Israel and Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, are in the process of reaching an agreement on cooperation in cyber matters. An Indonesian security official in charge of establishing his country's cyber protection and warfare infrastructure attended the Homeland Security conference in Tel Aviv earlier this week. He did not wear a badge as did other attendees. A delegation from Indonesia is expected to visit Israel soon to continue the contacts. Israel and Indonesia do not have diplomatic relations, but in 2009 the countries established an Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce under the auspices of the Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce. (Yair Mohr )

Electricity rates likely to rise 10% in April -- and possibly earlier

Electricity rates will most likely rise by some 10% in April. It is also possible that the rate hike could take effect earlier than the scheduled April adjustment. The cause is the huge increase in expenditures faced by the Israel Electric Corporation for the fuel it uses, as well as the high cost of importing liquefied natural gas to replace the gas imports from Egypt that have been cut off. This 10% increase is not connected to the IEC's present cash flow problems, except to the extent that they both stem in large part from the discontinuance of the Egyptian gas. Neither the cabinet nor the Public Utility Commission - Electricity have discussed this rate hike yet. (Avi Bar-Eli )

Trajtenberg says country's wide social gaps unacceptable to most Israelis

Israelis, especially the young, long for major social and economic changes, said Manuel Trajtenberg, who chaired the committee charged by the Netanyahu government with preparing a package of reform measures following the 2011 social justice protests. Speaking at a conference on community involvement at Bezalel College yesterday, Trajtenberg counted himself among those who sought change. "The longing for a society that is more just and equal is in the interest of all of us," he said. "I don't want to live in a society with such big [socio-economic] gaps as there are in Israel. (Lior Dattal )

Kibbutz industries profits fell last year while revenue edged up

The combined operating profits of 236 kibbutz industrial companies declined by more than a third in 2011 from the previous year, to NIS 2.3 billion. Yonatan Bassi, chairman of the Kibbutz Industries Confederation, which compiled the figures, attributed the decline to four companies that had enjoyed unusually high profits in 2010 but were unable to repeat thesame performance last year. Sales abroad, which include products earned by kibbutz-owned factories overseas, declined 5% to NIS 21.2 billion. The decline was mainly due to North America, which accounted for 24% all kibbutz-industry exports last year, down from 36% in 2001, the federation said. One of the reasons for the decline was the completion of a contract that Kibbutz Sasa's Plasan factory completed for the U.S. Army. Overall sales for kibbutz industries edged up 1.8% last year to NIS 34.4 billion, not counting plants processing kibbutz farm products. (Amiram Cohen )