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Israel Allocates $56 Million for Joint US-Israel Research Program

JERUSALEM, July 31, 2019 (supplied) — Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) has earmarked approximately $56 million USD to the NSF-BSF, a prestigious joint US-Israel program made up of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States–Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF). The money will enable this unique program to run many more US-Israeli scientific research projects.

The CHE approved a plan to boost current American-Israeli research and created a special budget of 200 million NIS (approximately $56 million USD) to be allocated to the NSF-BSF for joint Israel and US research programs over five years. The budget will facilitate dozens of research programs each year in a variety of fields, expanding on the handful of research programs currently being carried out.

The NSF-BSF program began operating in 2013 with the purpose of encouraging research collaboration between American and Israeli researchers.

Through this program, researchers from both countries jointly submit proposals to the NSF-BSF, which reviews submissions and approves the winning proposals.

The prestigious program distributes grants for a variety of fields of research, including:

exact sciences, engineering, computer science, natural and life sciences, earth and environmental sciences, economics, and psychology.

Israel scientists have gained an excellent worldwide reputation in the study of sciences, and the NSF-BSF program enables American academics to collaborate with Israeli researchers. For Israeli researchers, this significantly increases research opportunities with the American scientific establishment. At the same time, the program contributes to improving the reputation of science in Israel and reinforcing internationalization in the higher education system. Israel is among the few countries that has joint research programs with the NSF.

Professor Yaffa Zilbershats, chair of the CHE’s Planning and Budgeting Committee (PBC), said, “The expansion of the NSF-BSF program is an achievement for the Israeli higher education system. The United States is the world's research superpower and its willingness, through the NSF, to significantly expand American investment in, and collaboration with, Israeli researchers and institutions demonstrates the strength and quality of Israeli research. The PBC has set the advancement of internationalization as a central goal in its multiyear plan and allocates hundreds of millions of shekels per year to strengthen scientific ties with the United States, Europe, and Asia.”

In addition to the increased funding for NSF-BSF and as part of efforts to increase the scope of support of collaborations between Israeli researchers and institutions and American researchers, the PBC approved two more initiatives:

Starting this year, the CHE has increased the number of postdoctoral scholarships for persons studying in Israel, with an emphasis on outstanding postdoctoral students from leading universities in the United States and Canada.

The program, in collaboration with the Zuckerman Institute, will enable admission of dozens of outstanding postdoctoral students in STEM subjects over the next several years at all Israeli research universities. The amount of the scholarship for each postdoctoral student is $100,000 over two years, with the possibility of extending the scholarship for an additional two years. The total budget will be approximately $11 million over the course of four years (distributed equally between the PBC and the Zuckerman Institute).

The CHE has also increased support of postdoctoral scholarships granted to Israeli and American scientists in the framework of the Fulbright Israel United States-Israel Education Fund (USIEF) from $20,000 a year to $35,000 a year for American postdoctoral students studying in Israel, and from $37,500 a year for Israeli postdoctoral students studying in the United States to $47,500.

The CHE will continue to strengthen scientific ties between Israel and the US and increase efforts at internationalization in Israeli higher education.

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