The Role of Israeli Research Universities in the National R&D

This study was commissioned by the National Council for R&D (NCRD). Its purpose was to examine the influence of Israeli research universities on the national R&D system and the reciprocal relationships between the two systems in creating new knowledge and advanced technologies.


The report comprises eight chapters, describing and comparing the higher education systems and relationships with national R&D systems in Israel and several other countries: Germany, Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Korea. The study examined various models dealing with the historical development of research universities. The study focuses on the state's level of involvement and control of the academic development directions of universities, the existence of government research institutes, and the various mechanisms developed in Israel and abroad to transfer knowledge and encourage collaboration between academic researchers and other sectors of the economy. In addition, the funding of Israeli research universities is examined, and the interplay between the academe and the R&D and innovation system in the economy, by focusing on three main outputs of research universities: graduates, academic research, and intellectual property.


Our findings indicate a clear and continued success in the training of scientists and engineers by Israel’s higher education system. This success is reflected both directly in the impressive growth of the Israeli high-tech sector and the global achievements of Israeli high-tech companies, and indirectly in the remarkable rate of foreign-funded R&D investments in Israel.


Recommendations in the report include: (1) securing long-term resources for Israeli research universities that will allow them to maintain academic freedom in their R&D fields; (2) a proposal to examine the establishment of applied research institutes in select areas, to be financed mainly by projects commissioned by the business and governmental sectors. These institutes will be staffed primarily by faculty members and graduate students; (3) Adding new support programs for the development stages of those basic studies funded by the ISF, the outcomes of which stimulate interest in the business sector; (4) setting up a national database on research in the higher education system, with data on research performers, funding levels and sources, collaborations and graduates’ careers, to allow systematic and facts-based evaluation of the contribution of universities to the economy and society in Israel.

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