A crystal of excellence and innovation has been created in the State of Israel due to the confluence of five factors, some of which are unique to us.
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
On Monday evening (19 May 2014), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu awarded the fourth annual Prime Minister’s Prize for Initiatives and innovation at Tel Aviv University. Also in attendance were National Economic Council head and Prize selection committee chairman Prof. Eugene Kandel, Tel Aviv University President Prof. Joseph Klafter, Economy Ministry Chief scientist Prof. Avi Hason and a delegation from the MIXiii Israel Innovation Conference, including guests from – inter alia – China, India, Mexico, Canada and the US.
The Prize was founded by the Prime Minister to award to initiatives and innovation that make a special contribution to society and are of far-reaching socio-economic influence. The Prize is designed to encourage innovative thinking, imagination and creativity among various population groups and effect significant changes in society, the environment, science, technology, etc.
The Cabinet, at its 19 January 2014 meeting, decided that the Prize would be awarded near Herzl Day (the 9th of the Hebrew Month of Iyar), in order to express the link between Herzl and contemporary initiatives and innovation.
The Prizes, worth NIS 200,000, are awarded in two fields: Initiatives for profit and initiatives not for profit. Each winner will receive NIS 80,000; those receiving an honorable mention will receive NIS 30,000 each.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "A crystal of excellence and innovation has been created in the State of Israel due to the confluence of five factors, some of which are unique to us:
First, the excellent universities and research institutes that we have constitute an important concentration of academic, intellectual and scientific ability that is the basis of innovation.
The second factor is our security needs. Since we must defend ourselves and defense also depends on innovation, the IDF and the other security elements are engaged in this out of all proportion and this, which on the face of it should be a burden, creates welcome results and not just in IT, but also in other fields.
The third reason is that we have fostered our economy, developed it for competitiveness and initiatives, and created a supportive business climate.
The last two factors are, first of all, the fact that we are small, everything is close by, everyone lives in the same neighborhood, everyone can meet with each other and stimulate each other with new ideas and try them out; the advantage is to the smaller.
The fifth and final factor is the special heritage of our people, an ancient people that was the only people, if I am not mistaken, that at least half of whose members learned to read and write. Two thousand years ago this did not exist anywhere.
These five factors – our research centers and universities, security needs, a free economy, a relatively small size and the special heritage of our people – have joined together to form this crystal that creates innovation in a scope appreciated around the world. The future belongs to those who innovate, in cooperation between countries and companies. I am pleased to see this growing interest in the State of Israel’s unique innovations. In the end, I think that everything will be technological."
National Economic Council head Prof. Eugene Kandel said: "By virtue of their activity, the prize winners have succeeded in integrating special populations into society. In order to succeed and move the State of Israel into the future, we must integrate all sections of the population into economic activity and, at the same time, respect the cultural and religious differences among its various groups."
Tel Aviv University President Prof. Klafter said: "Especially during this time of relative economic stability, when the flow of natural gas promises to jumpstart the Israeli economy, it is important to expand investments in education in order to ensure the future success of the State of Israel.
Education in general, and higher education in particular, are a kind of investment that needs time in order to ripen and bear fruit. Innovation requires investment and financing. Cooperation between industry and academia must be in both directions. Research budgets that come from industry are vital for the future of academia, just as the results of academic research are vital to the future of industry. Over the years, Tel Aviv University and its researchers have proven the justification for investing in research, as well as the results of cooperation in the field of initiatives, innovation and science, between academia and industry."
Economy Ministry Chief Scientist Prof. Avi Hason said: "This week we are hosting hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors and companies from around the world who have come to see Israeli innovation at its best. The partnership between the business and government sectors is critical in order to maintain our abilities in the world of innovation and technology and move the Israeli economy forward."