Medical Technology Development in Israel DiversifiesAug. 21, 2016
The 15th Annual IATI BIOMED 2016 Conference and Exhibition was held May 24–26, 2016, in Tel Aviv, Israel. As a long-time medical development person and someone who has attended many medical conferences and expos over the years, I found it an interesting opportunity to compare and contrast the development environment in what has become one of the most significant medical development hubs outside of the United States. In the recent “2015 Innovation Report” published by the Medical Alley Association headquartered in Minnesota, Israel was ranked as the fourth most productive innovation center in health technology (a category that includes drugs, devices, and diagnostic technology) on a per capita basis in the world, following Medical Alley (Minnesota), Northern California, and Boston, and just ahead of Southern California.
The IATI BIOMED conference brought together an interesting collection of established companies, startups, entrepreneurs, and academia to highlight Israel’s contributions to life sciences and medical development. Each year, more than 90 tech startupsare launched in Israel, and to date there are approximately 1400 companies in this sector.
In an introductory letter to the attendees, Amit Lang, director general of Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry, explained that the surge in life science activity in Israel is due to the confluence of top-quality universities, engagement by the Israeli government in support of academia, selective investments of capital, and the country’s entrepreneurial spirit. In addition, incubators have played a role stimulating startups, as has a venture capital fund of more than $200 million specifically designated for biomedical companies.
Particularly evident was the influence of Israel’s network of technological incubators. This government initiative provides a safe framework in which ideas can be nurtured through technical, business, and administrative support that facilitates turning ideas into fledgling companies and, hopefully, marketable products. There are currently 18 regular technological incubators in the Israeli government’s program, plus an additional one specifically dedicated to biotechnology. More than 40% of the projects in the incubators are in biomedical realm, including drugs, biotech, and devices, according to the Israel Innovation Authority. A key indicator of the influence of the incubators is that more than a third of the incubators have established relationships with major international partners.