Proven record of innovative scientific excellence
Israel's life sciences sector is supported by a strong foundation of academic excellence, including some of the world's leading research institutes; renowned R&D facilities, such as the Technion and the Weizmann Institute, as well as cutting-edge medical centers.Four academics have recently won the Nobel Prize in chemistry. Daniel Shechtman of the Technion won the prize in 2010 for his discovery of quasicrystals; Ada Yonath of the Weizmann Institute in 2009 for showing how ribosomes function, which has important implications for developing antibiotics and Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko of the Technion in 2004 for their discovery of Ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation, leading to breakthroughs in the understanding and treatment of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and cystic fibrosis.
Fast growing sector
Prior to 1996, Israel was home to 186 life sciences companies. Today there are about 1,000. 41% of all Life Sciences companies operating in Israel today were established during the last 10 years and over 1/3 of all sector start-ups are already generating revenue.
Connections between academia and business
Seven university-associated and five hospital-linked technology transfer organizations (TTO) provide a valuable bridge to connect researchers and early-stage projects with both investors and partnerships with multinational corporations. Israel is home to the largest and oldest TTO, The Hebrew University's Yissum, which generates output similar to its counterparts at MIT and Stanford, with over 7,000 patents covering 2,025 inventions (2012). Yeda of the Weizmann Institute of Science is among the top five TTOs in the world and developed Copaxone, a breakthrough treatment for MS, which generated $3.9 billion in sales in 2011.
The technological incubator network houses up to 15 companies each and provides them with a full suite of services and business development, as well as funding of approximately $500,000 for the first 2-3 years of their lives. Active since the early 1990s, incubators were once government-run, but are now fully privatized.Teva, Hadasit (Hadassah Medical Center's TTO) and two leading VCs established Bioline Rx, which shepherds early stage-projects through the second stage of clinical trials.
Support from the government
Biotechnology is defined as a preferred sector by the Office of the Chief Scientist in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. As such, the government funds 50% of the approved R&D budget for 2 years along with other generous incentive packages.
In 2012, OrbiMed, a leading global investment management firm, created Israel’s first investment fund dedicated to life sciences venture capital opportunities with an anchor investment by the Government of Israel. The $222 million fund, OrbiMed Israel Partners LP, invests in biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical devices and diagnostics companies at varying stages of maturity, from seed through growth equity
Pioneering stem cell research & therapeutics
Israeli scientists have been recognized among the earliest pioneers in stem cell research and have been at the forefront of global efforts to isolate human embryonic stem cells (Hesc).
First to demonstrate in-vitro differentiation of human embryonic Stem Cells (hESC) and generation of human embryonic bodies.
First to genetically modify hESCs, including a line that represented a model for human disease (Lesch Nyhan disease(
First clinical trials of cell therapy treatments.
Spotlight on Teva
Teva Pharmaceuticals is among the top 15 pharmaceutical companies in the world and is the world’s largest generic pharmaceutical company with about $18 billion in annual sales in 2011. Headquartered in Israel, Teva operates in 60 countries and has 46,000 employees worldwide. Recent acquisitions include Tayio, the third largest pharmaceutical company in Japan, in 2011; Germany’s Ratiopharm in 2010, which turned Teva into the leading generic pharmaceutical company in Europe and Barr Pharmaceuticals in 2008, which enhanced Teva's leading position within the US generic pharmaceuticals market.