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Israeli Firm Earmarks $5 Million to Tap Ideas of Soviet Scientists

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Israel Aircraft Industries has announced establishment of a $5 million research and development fund to tap innovative ideas by scientists and engineers among Soviet immigrants.

With matching funds of another $5 million from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for new business incentives over a period of three years, available funds over the next three years could total $10 million, the ministry’s chief scientist, Yigael Erlich, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Listed among IAI’s preferred fields are civil, space, aircraft and airborne systems, radars and communications, navigation, artificial intelligence, solar and wind energy, medical equipment and ecological systems.

“Dozens of proposals have been received and more are flowing in,” said IAI spokesman Philip Hermann.

“We are carefully screening them for technical feasibility and commercial viability, and individuals whose ideas successfully pass the screening will be hired for specific periods in order to develop the selected products,” Hermann said.

Welcoming the IAI initiative, Soviet Jewry Zionist Forum spokeswoman Deborah Lipson, said: “I hope the fund will not be a fly-by-night affair, but will grow to become a permanent financial resource to tap and commercialize the many excellent ideas brought to Israel by Soviet scientists and patent innovators.”

Herb Ostrov, managing editor of the English-language weekly Israel Business Today, said, “More than 10 government and private organizations are funding professional job creation in Israeli industry. However, this is the first time a major Israeli industry has initiated such a fund.”

“At long last, Israeli industry is beginning to accept financial responsibility in the national burden of professional olim job creation,” Ostrov said. “Hopefully, other industries will follow suit.”

The director of Israel Business Forum, Meir Dayan, said that since May, 128 small-business ventures initiated by Soviet olim have been matched with foreign investors.

That is in addition to another 250 new veteran Israeli enterprises. Most ventures employ high technology.

Of 57 new immigrants who responded to a survey sponsored by the Zionist Forum, eight had obtained investors, seven had been accepted by investors and another 11 were in various stages of negotiation with backers.

Some 200 overseas and 200 Israeli businesses are scheduled to participate in the Third Israel Business Forum conference to be held in Jerusalem from June 15 to 18.

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