Israel and Colombia signed an agreement on cooperation in industrial R&D this week. The signing comes following a series of agreements over the past few years between Israel and Latin American countries, including Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay.
The agreement will enable companies from both countries to receive government funding for joint projects in industrial R&D and projects focused on adapting products to the Colombian market.
Avi Hasson, Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy & Industry, said: "This agreement will encourage the Israeli industry to focus on several technological fields with the Colombian industry. The potential for cooperation with Colombia is significant and through the agreement, Israeli companies can gain exposure to Colombian firms and to new potential avenues of cooperation."
Israel Shamay, Director of Cooperation with the Americas at the Office of the Chief Scientist, said: "The agreement with Colombia is another level in the activity of the Chief Scientist’s Office in the Americas, intended to cement innovation ties with states and institutions in Latin America. This program will allow Israeli companies to close the gap more easily regarding challenges involved in commercial activity in Latin American markets and with reduced risk. It includes R&D support with bilateral government funding, support for direct cooperation with large companies from the region, participation in projects funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and a unique program for adapting existing products to the demands of the Latin American market."
Over the past few years, a special effort has been made to promote business activity with Latin American countries on several levels: exports, commerce and cooperation on R&D. The cluster of agreements with Latin America serves an important purpose beyond funding joint projects – it is intended to build bridges between Israel and all Latin American countries on a number of commercial levels.
The agreement was signed by Israel’s Ambassador to Colombia Marco Sermoneta and Colombian Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, and will be implemented by the Office of the Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy & Industry through its Americas department, as well as the Colombian National Authority of Science and Technology. In Israel,
the agreement is supported by the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Foreign Trade Administration at the Ministry of Economy & Industry.
Erez Zaionce, Head of the Economic and Trade Mission to Colombia – Foreign Trade Administration, is leading the Israeli Ministry of Economy & Industry’s activity in the local market and will closely guide the implementation of the agreement. Zaionce said: "Colombia is the fourth largest economy in Latin America, after Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. Its economy is characterized by a free market, a stable government and consistent growth, largely as a result of improvements in the field of entrepreneurship, as well as openness in the fields of commerce and investments. Reforms have focused on improving regulation and encouraging a strong private sector. The agreement creates a working infrastructure for Israeli companies and will allow them to benefit from assistance in looking for partner companies and for funding for collaborative projects. Colombia’s local market is developed and ‘thirsty’ for Israeli innovation. This agreement opens many opportunities for Israeli companies interested in breaking into the Colombian market in particular and to Latin America markets in general."