Sino-Israeli Three-Year Action Plan for Innovation Cooperation (2015-2017)

Within China-Israel relations, a particularly important area of collaboration has been the application of scientific research to industrial development. The technology-sharing among the nations in a range of fields promises to make great advances both in terms of economic impact and promoting further innovation. We will examine here how the cooperation among Chinese and Israeli businesses is initiated in practice. In particular, we will discuss the two institutions which are the main drivers behind the promotion of cooperation the National Industry Agency for R&D Cooperation in Israel otherwise known as MATIMOP and the China Science Technology and Exchange Center (CSTEC), as well as the roadshows and exhibitions which are the main avenue by which such partnerships are initiated. 

In January 2015, China and Israel signed a “Three-Year Action Plan for Innovation Cooperation (2015-2017)”. To realize the Action Plan, a committee was established, co-chaired by Vice Premier Liu Yandong and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman. One of the provisions in the action plan was the promotion of technological exchange through matchmaking events, such as roadshows, which can provide a channel for businesses to find collaboration partners. 

The purpose of MATIMOP is to advance cooperation on industrial projects between Israel and international partners. The institution is effectively the executive agency of the Office of the Chief Scientist, ensuring that the latest and most cutting-edge scientific is channeled towards significant industrial developments. Through engaging with international partners, Israel seeks to mutually beneficial collaboration entailing joint investment and technology-sharing to maximize the potential of such projects.

Specifically, there are three main advantages to international cooperation in R&D projects. Firstly, such collaboration allows for the risks to be shared. The risks can be mitigated in a number of ways, most notably through government grants, but also through the elevated expertise in technology and commerce that is the result of pooling knowledge. Secondly, through joint efforts enables the project to reach the market more quickly as working together helps the momentum to gather pace. Thirdly, the strategic partnerships that emerge through international collaboration can potentially open-up resources, such as R&D infrastructure, including laboratories and testbeds, as well as funding sources, that allow companies to be more competitive in the global marketplace.

The China Science, Technology and Exchange Center (CSTEC) was established in 1982 and is affiliated with the Ministry of Science and Technology of the PRC. CSTEC promotes collaboration with foreign research and industrial communities in order to promote socioeconomic development. MATIMOP is the counterpart of CSTEC in Israel. CSTEC organizes conferences, training programs and exhibitions and the organization of international cooperation in science and technology. 

Co-operation with China has been advanced by MATIMOP and CSTEC through providing the means by which potential partners from companies from China and Israel conducting R&D in the most advanced technologies can meet and engage in joint projects. In August 2014, MATIMOP signed an agreement with CSTEC to cooperate in promoting ties between companies from China and Israel. The main avenue by which the Agency provides such opportunities is the roadshows and exhibitions. These events take place in cities in China and Israel and bring together a diverse range of companies, each year focusing on a distinct sector. Also, the agency releases calls for proposals for Chinese companies eager to work on a joint project in Israel. 

The theme for the roadshow of 2015 was the life sciences sector held on May 13, 2015 in Tel Aviv, along with an associated Biomed Exhibition. A CESTEC delegation from China, led by Deputy Director General Ge Pu and composed of 42 representatives of Chinese companies selected by CSTEC, China National Scientific Instruments Materials Corporation and Jiangsu Provincial Department of Science and Technology with the purpose of locating business opportunities and engaging in co-operation in cutting-edge technologies. 

At the Biomed Exhibition, hundreds of Israeli businesses, pharmaceutical agents, scientists, venture capital firms showcased state-of-the-art advancements in the biomedical sector and their applications. A welcome reception was held in honor of the Chinese delegation during which Mr. Avi Hasson, Chief Scientist of the Israeli Ministry of Economy, His Excellency Mr. Zhan Yongxin, Chinese Ambassador to Israel, Mr Ge Pu, DDG of CSTEC and Mr. Wang Lanming, DDG of the China Food and Drug Administration) delivered speeches highlighting the positive prospects for China-Israel co-operation. 

The lifescience roadshow, as a business matchmaking event, provided the opportunity for the 42-member Chinese delegation to hold B2B talks with their counterparts from 89 Israeli companies. The interactions facilitated through the roadshow resulted in the consummation of a number of intentions of cooperation. The Business representatives from China also held information-gathering meetings with the reputable Weizmann Institute of Science, the Israeli incubator Terralab, AIT-Pharm and Kadimastem, a company specializing in regenerative medicines and the Yeda Technology Transfer Center. From these discussions, the Chinese delegates were able to gain invaluable insights on the investment environment in Israel, infrastructure and the functionality of incubator mechanisms, which provided the delegation with greater confidence to invest in Israeli incubators.

Transalgae is one example among the many Israeli companies which participated in life science roadshow. Founded in 2008 and based at the Science Park in Rehovot, Israel, Transalgae develops algae to serve as a mode of delivery of medicines for the well-being of animals and the protection of crops. These medicines, based on proteins or other bio-chemicals, are produced by the algae as a “cell based factory system.” Such treatments can be delivered orally for fish and animals or through crop spraying and are envisaged as an alternative to more problematic methods, such as injections, the use of chemicals or transgenic plants. 

On July 15, 2015, a China-Israel ICT Roadshow was held in China. The event was co-organized by CSTEC, GSMA, IEICI, STTE, PingAn Ventures and China-Israel Changzhou Innovation Park. During this event 96 B2B talks were held for Israeli companies with over 80 representatives from Chinese companies, such as Alibaba, Inspur, ZTE, JD, China Mobile and TCL. Israeli technologies and products which attracted interest included CoummuniTake, ExtremeReality, Spirent Communications and Tekoia. 

The Mobile World Congress (Shanghai) 2015 was held on the same date with which the ICT roadshow was associated. Given their advanced mobile technologies, Israeli companies were strongly represented at the event, with a total of 19 companies presenting at the Israel national pavilion. During the exhibition, CSTEC director general, Mr. Sun Hong held a meeting with Mr. Ramzi Gabai, Chairman of the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute (IEICI). During their discussion they affirmed the constructive nature of the cooperation. They also emphasized the importance of the continual development of the “Internet plus” industry, the strategic plan recently unveiled by Li Keqiang to integrate the internet with manufacturing. Sun Hong also met with the general manager of GMSA, Bob, to discuss the work plan of the Information and Communication Industry Working Group under China-Israel Innovation Cooperation Committee.

The successful series of events towards advancing technological exchange between China and Israel is an example of the high yield potential of the close cooperation between the two nations. Establishing an agreement among CSTEC and MAPITOP, each with strong connections to their respective governments, to promote this form of engagements is ensuring that the Innovation Cooperation Action Plan will have concrete results. Through regular matchmaking events, direct collaboration among Chinese and Israeli companies will be more frequent and enduring. The industrial development which is the fruit of such cooperation is likely to be a genuine contribution to social well-being and quality economic development and growth.