Despite its small land surface, Israel is currently one of the world’s leading science and innovation nations. It has become one of Germany's most important partners. Israel's development as a startup and high-tech country and the close scientific connections between the countries have also led to German industry engaging increasingly stronger in Israel. On the other hand, many Israeli businesses use Germany as a base for their European activities.
From the start, Israel’s founders knew that, given the county’s geographic realities, science and research would be very important. The lack of natural raw materials meant that the export of high-tech goods was an important economic policy objective. In the process, Israel can draw on the quality of its education and its large intellectual capital.
Education and research in Israel
In terms of its gross domestic product (GDP), Israel has for many years belonged to the world’s top nations regarding expenditure on research and development (In 2020: 5.4% for civil expenditure on research and development; source: OECD). Israel has the highest number of scientists and engineers in the world given its population size.
International scientific cooperation
Israel's research activities are restricted by its low population size. Consequently, the country has for some time now endeavored to broaden its research base and find financial relief through international cooperation. Israel's international involvement manifests itself in its scientific publications: A third of all academic publications is produced in conjunction with foreign co-authors. After the USA, Germany is Israel's most important science partner in international research cooperation.
The intensive cooperation between Germany and Israel in the course of decades has resulted in a multi-layered cooperation landscape (see Structure of the German-Israeli Cooperation), covering nearly all topics (see Areas of Cooperation).
Since the 1970s, the interministerial cooperation between the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) and its Israeli partners has provided a reliable framework for joint research. The long-term programmes of the Minerva foundation, the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF), the German-Israeli Project Cooperation (DIP) and the Martin-Buber-Foundation Endowment Fund are the pillars of the cooperation.
German research support and mediating organisations contribute in many ways to cooperation with Israel. Non-university research facilities and universities nurture intensive contacts with Israeli partners. German political party foundations and large private trusts have for many years been active in Israel and support the two countries’ joint scientific projects. In addition, the European cooperation programmes play a decisive role in Israel's international science cooperation and especially in its cooperation with German partners. For instance, Israel has been a successful associated partner in the EU Framework programme for research and innovation Horizon 2020. On 6 December 2021, the agreement associating Israel to Horizon Europe entered into force.