To Reverse Brain Drain, Israel Offers Returning Scientists Major Grants

By Lior Dattel (Haaretz)

Published August 09, 2010.

Outstanding scientists who return to Israel as part of a project to establish centers of excellence at local universities will receive up to NIS 2 million in research grants. The grants will be spread out over five years, up to NIS 400,000 a year, based on new rules drawn up by the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Israel Council for Higher Education.

The grants are considered large for Israeli institutions. The Israel Science Foundation gives out up to NIS 200,000 per researcher.

As part of the new program to bring back Israeli scientists, Israeli universities will establish 30 “centers of excellence”, and outstanding scientists from Israel and abroad will cooperate in the research. The cabinet approved the program in March.

The size of individual grants will be based on the specific needs of the research projects, such as the number of staff to be hired and the cost of experiments. One-time funds for purchasing equipment will also be available. The research must be carried out in Israel.

The first four centers will open this coming academic year. Each will employ 15 to 30 Israeli scientists who have returned to Israel. The plan is for some of the centers to become degree-granting institutions and attract foreign students.

The estimated cost of establishing the centers is NIS 1.5 billion, with a third of this amount coming from the universities hosting the excellence centers, a third from the state and a third from philanthropic funds.

The first four centers will specialize in four areas: The molecular basis of diseases, cognitive processes, computer science, and renewable and sustainable energy sources.

The universities will have to submit their final proposals by the end of the year and the National Science Foundation will make recommendations to a special committee of the CHE on who to fund.



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