Monday, November 17, 2008

Haifa's Future Prosperity

With all the talk of gloom and doom in economic circles, it is good to read that the pundits are forecasting that following on from Israel’s Hightec boom, the next boom is going to be in the Biotech field. In this regard Haifa is well placed to take advantage with the new park be specifically established for this purpose. The park will compliment the Hightec MATAM park which contains such famous names as Intel, Google, Microsoft, GEC, Elbit, Phillips and IBM.

Among the newest arrivals at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange are a group of small biotech firms which launched their IPOs beginning in late 2005.

Israel's famous information technology (IT) and electronics industry originally got its head start from a project called "Yozma," where the Israeli government, in the early 1990s, guaranteed venture capital investment in hi-tech to the tune of some $100 million. The investment more than paid off, with the sector now generating some $10 billion a year.

With no major project financing in this new industry, the sector turned to "technology incubators," small companies supported by the Chief Scientist's Office whose goal was originally to nurture the start-up ideas of Russian immigrant computer scientists. As those began to mature and find independent means of financing, the incubators looked for another resource to develop - and the life sciences fit the bill.

In the plans for an economic package to stimulate the economy and to maintain research and development activity of start-ups, the Treasury is expected to double the budget of the Chief Scientist's Office from NIS 1.3 billion in 2009 to about NIS 3b. This can only be good news for this young industry in general and Haifa in particular.

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