Israel, Russia to Ally on Nanotech

Israel and Russia will be collaborating on the cutting-edge science of nanotechnology, which is the science of controlling matter at molecular or even atomic levels.

Together with Russian nanotechnology investment company Rusnano, Jerusalem is setting up a $200 million joint investment fund, Israel's minister of Industry and Trade, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, agreed this weekend in a meeting with Rusnano chairman Anatoly Chubais. The two met at an economic conference in St. Petersburg.

The fund is actually the brainchild of none other than Israel's president, Shimon Peres, in coordination with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ben-Eliezer also met with Russia's education and science minister, Andrei Fursenko, who will be visiting Israel in the fall to discuss joint research and development projects.

Also in Russia for the conference was Walt Disney Company chairman Andy Bird, who is in charge of its international operations. In a meeting with Ben-Eliezer, they agreed that Disney would consider using Israeli animation techniques when making movies.

A sour note was sounded during Ben-Eliezer's meeting with United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who sharply criticized Israel over its policy governing intellectual property in the pharmaceuticals sector. American trade officials have placed Israel on its blacklist of countries that violate intellectual property rights. The U.S. believes that Israel's policy protects companies like Teva Pharmaceutical Industries at the expense of American pharmaceutical manufacturers companies that make the original drugs.

Rusnano was formed in 2007. In May, The Moscow Times reported that Rusnano was in the doghouse with Moscow for lagging in its primary mission, which is advancing nanotech to realization.