The Idea

German-Israeli Life Sciences Committee a Joint Initiative of the German-Israeli Economic Association and the Israeli-German Chamber of Industry & Commerce

Israel is one of the most innovative countries in the world with regard to life sciences. Main areas are medical devices, biotechnology and health-related software. Some Israeli firms are world-leaders (TEVA, Given Imaging) in specific sub-segments of the life-science industry. However, most life-science-based companies are SMEs. These SMEs have difficulties in getting access to markets. The Israeli domestic market is small. The market entry into the US is expensive and risky due to high regulatory standards. Israeli firms tend to underestimate growth opportunities in continental Europe. Even though Germany has the third largest market for medical devices in the world, this market is often not high on the priority list of Israeli SMEs. The main hurdles are a general lack of information about Germany as a business location for life science firms and the difficulties in understanding the specifics of the German health care system. There is a variety of European, Federal, State and local incentive and support programs available for R&D in Germany for foreign and domestic firms alike, but the evaluation of these programs is time-consuming and can be discouraging for Israeli SMEs.

Germany has Europe’s largest life sciences industry and the biggest number of health care SMEs in the EU. These firms are highly innovative and export a large part of their products to foreign markets. Many German firms are world-leaders in their field (Fresenius, B. Braun), but most of the firms are SMEs. The German life science community has not strongly focused on Israel. There was, for instance, only little German participation in ILSI Biomed and the number of German life science firms with R&D activities in Israel is comparatively low. The German life science community seems not to be aware of the advantages of Israel as a location for R&D. Despite the positive effects of the “German-Israeli-Year of Science and Technology” in 2008, the number of actual projects is still too low.

Both countries share the possession of a life science industry which is SME-dominated and highly innovative, flexible and globally acting. Despite these similarities, there is a lack of awareness on both sides with regard to joint business, cooperation in R&D and bilateral investment.

The German-Israeli Life Sciences Committee´s aim therefore is to further improve bilateral relations in life sciences in business as well as research between both countries. To achieve this goal, the Committee supports Israel’s and Germany’s life science community with three major activities:

  1. Creating Awareness of existing incentives, programs and partners: There are many opportunities for bilateral engagement, but most are not widely-known in Israel and Germany alike. Furthermore, examples of success and failure exist. They can serve as case-studies for future engagement and can prevent mistakes. The Committee supports the Israeli and German life science communities to get access to this knowledge.

  2. Identification of life-science-opportunities and future growth markets and technologies with a particular focus on Israel and Germany. The Committee assesses regularly new trends and tendencies in life sciences and evaluates their specific impact on Israel and Germany. It identifies specific opportunities for bilateral engagement and helps firms in both countries to get joint projects started.

  3. A Network is provided by the Committee in Israel and Germany to support the life science community in both countries to successfully engage in bilateral projects.