Germany and Israel also cooperate closely in other areas of the life sciences (e.g. neurosciences, biotechnology and medical technology). The current cooperation between BioNTech and the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) is emblematic of this. Minerva Centers have been established at several Israeli research institutions in various fields of the life sciences.
Bilateral cooperation in the neurosciences was funded from 1998 to 2009, following the successful cooperation in the field of cardio-vascular diseases begun in 1976. In 1998, the thematic focus of this funding measure changed from cardio-vascular to neurological diseases. In the cooperation period from 1998 to 2009, 23 outstanding projects in the field of disease-oriented neurosciences were funded with a total volume of 7 million euros.
In 2007, bilateral cooperation in the neurosciences was replaced by the participation of both countries in transnational initiatives, the ERA-Net NEURON and the Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) JPND. The ERA-Net NEURON promotes projects in the field of mental and neurological disorders as well as diseases of the sensory systems. Both Germany and Israel have been permanent partners of the network since its foundation in 2007. Currently, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding seven projects in five multilateral consortia with Israeli participation. The JPI JPND covers the field of neurodegenerative diseases and was founded in 2009. Germany has been a partner from the beginning, and Israel joined the network in 2012. The BMBF is currently funding eight projects in six multilateral consortia with Israeli participation within the framework of the JPND. The projects funded by both initiatives are application-oriented basic research in the fields of biomedical and clinical research. The research work essentially involves improving the understanding of disease causes and mechanisms as well as researching and testing effective therapies. New funding calls for both initiatives are usually made annually.
In addition, two projects involving research institutions from Germany, Israel and the USA are currently underway to establish transnational research networks within the framework of the “Multilateral Cooperation in Computational Neuroscience: Germany – USA – Israel – France” .
The Israeli Ministry of Health (MOH) and the BMBF are members of the “Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance”. Within the framework of this initiative, the BMBF and the MOH are currently funding four collaborations between Israeli and German partners. The Israeli Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology (MOST) and the BMBF are partners in the “Joint Programming Initiative ‘A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life”. Within the framework of the funding announcement “Addressing adverse and beneficial effects of food ingredients and food processing on hypersensitivities to food”, the BMBF and the MOST are funding a consortium involving the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Technical University of Munich.
The German Israeli Health Forum for Artificial Intelligence (GIHF-AI) connects experts from Germany and Israel in the field of Digital Health with a focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). GIHF-AI was founded by ELNET Germany in 2021. The aim is to develop recommendations for action for German politics through dialogue formats and annual conferences as well as regular publications.
Israel’s health system has been successively digitalised for over 25 years. Over 700 startups were created. GIHF-AI aims to transfer knowledge accordingly and identify synergies with Germany. The programme is funded by the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG).
The cooperation between the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Israeli Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology (MOST) in the field of biotechnology began in 1976. In 2000, it was reoriented away from basic research towards application-oriented cooperation projects between Israeli research groups and German companies, laying the foundation for the funding measure German-Israeli Cooperation in Biotechnology BIO-DISC. This cooperation, launched in 2004 together with the then Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) in the Ministry of Economics (then MOITAL), funded bilateral research networks between German and Israeli companies until 2015. A total of 28 collaborative projects with a funding volume of around 14.3 million euros were supported by the BMBF and to the same extent by the Israeli Ministry of Economics. In addition, the BMBF funded a total of 17 feasibility studies by German and Israeli research institutions. The projects’ topics ranged from technology development for optimised crop breeding, genome analysis for identifying therapeutically relevant genes to the further development of medical implants.
In the field of medical technology, Israel and Germany are looking for a new generation of prostheses that help paralysed, amputee or Parkinson’s patients, as well as people otherwise restricted in their freedom of movement, to have more control over their limbs. One of the most promising approaches was pursued by METACOMP (Models and Experiments for Adaptive Control of Motor Prostheses), a research network within the framework of the German-Israeli Project Cooperation (DIP). METACOMP laid the foundation for the development of an “intelligent” prosthesis that is directly connected to the brain of its wearer via a stable interface and can be controlled by the wearer.