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Science Ministry: Israel losing comparative advantage in research

Israel is losing its comparative advantage in the research and development field, according to a report submitted this week by Science, Technology and Space Minister Jacob Perry to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The field has been a growth engine for the Israeli economy, but the report warns that a drop in investment in R&D could have major negative implications for the economy, noting that most R&D funding in Israel comes from the corporate sector, which is relatively risk-averse. In a letter to Netanyahu, Perry called on the government to increase support for R&D by 4% a year. The report was developed by the Science and Technology Forum, headed by Isaac Ben-Israel, the chairman of the Science Ministry’s National Science Council. ‏(Lior Dattel and Inbal Orpaz‏)

Elbit Systems forms aviation joint venture in Korea

Defense electronics company Elbit Systems is establishing a new joint venture in South Korea. Called Sharp Elbit Systems, it is a partnership with Korea’s Sharp Aviation K. Elbit will have a 19% stake in the venture, with an option to increase it to 50%, Elbit said in a statement, which explained that the Korean venture would offer maintenance, repair and manufacturing services for advanced military aircraft avionics and also pursue systems development. Elbit CEO Bezalel Machlis said his company views South Korea as an important market, and the joint venture as an important development for the company in that country. ‏(Shelly Appelberg‏)

Budget bill to include incentives to use public transportation

A draft of the Economic Arrangements Bill that will accompany the 2013-14 budget includes a provision meant to encourage workers to leave their cars at home and take public transportation to work. The plan calls for a team to be set up to develop incentives for employers to encourage public transportation use on the part of their employees, and to enable travel allowances paid to public-service employees to be converted, at least by new employees, to free rides on mass transit. The plan calls for NIS 40 million to be spent by the government through 2018 in support of employer incentives and being presented as an effort to help address increasing congestion on the country’s roads. The project team is to include the director general of the Transportation Ministry and the Finance Ministry’s budget-division director. ‏(Daniel Schmil‏)

Livnat to present legislation aimed at protecting authors’ royalties

Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat will present a bill to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, designed to protect the interest of authors by guaranteeing them a minimum percentage royalty on their sold books. The bill would also require retailers to sell books at their suggested retail price for the first 18 months after they are published, with the exception of special periods such as Hebrew Book Week. During the first 18 months, authors would be guaranteed an 8% royalty on the first 6,000 copies sold and 10% beyond 6,000. The bill had passed its first of three readings in the last Knesset but failed to become law before the January 22 election. Livnat is seeking to invoke a procedure to revive the bill rather than start the legislative process from scratch. ‏(Zvi Zrahiya‏)

Limor LivnatCredit: Moti Milrod