Today (Sunday), the Civil Research and Development Council (CRDC) declared the civilian space industry as a national priority sector for the State of Israel for the next five years. The other four areas chosen by the Committee as scientific-technological national priority sectors are bio-convergence, foodtech, renewable energies and blue-tech. The national priority sectors were submitted to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, Orit Farkash Hacohen.
The meaning of this decision is recognition of the strategic importance of the civilian space industry: the research grant fund of the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, in a value of approximately NIS 180 million per year, will place a significant emphasis on the national priority sectors and, accordingly, national plans will be formulated in these sectors. The decision is also in keeping with the strategic plan for space, which was submitted this year by the Israel Space Agency to the Minister of Innovation and was approved by her.
In recent years, the space industry has been recognized in the State of Israel, just like in the rest of the world, as a force multiplier for significant economic growth as well as a lever that strengthens Israel’s international position. The decision to choose the local space industry as a national priority sector comes in addition to a long list of decisions, investments and plans made recently, to emphasize the civilian space industry as a national interest. Among other things, we can mention Israel’s decision to sign the Artemis agreements this year, the international program led by NASA for human spaceflight missions to the moon and to Mars; the Innovation Authority’s investment in the tender for greenhouses in space, among other things, as part of an overall plan to develop an ecosystem of innovation with a budget of NIS 500 million; and the above-mentioned strategic space plan that the Israel Space Agency submitted this year to the Minister of Innovation.
The strategic plan, in particular, includes an investment of approximately NIS 650 million over a period of five years, with the aim of doubling the number of local space companies and quadrupling the volume of annual sales in the sector. The goals of the program are also, among other things, to establish international partnerships in the space sector as well as to increase the number of high school graduates who had a practical involvement in the sector as well as the number of space researchers in the academic world.
Relative Advantage and Strategic Need
The strategic plan for the promotion of the civilian space sector in Israel was presented in May by the Director of the Israel Space Agency, Brigadier General (Ret.) Uri Oron, at the request of Farkash HaCohen to map in detail the scope of opportunities as well as the vision, the goals and the actions required in order to take advantage of these opportunities. Against the background of the plan lies the dramatic change taking place in the space industry in the world in recent years, with the opening of space to entrepreneurs and private investors and its transformation into a growing and developing market.
At the present time, turning the civilian space industry into one of the five national priority sectors is an important step in the implementation of the strategic plan. Orit Farkash HaCohen welcomed the recommendations of the National Council for Research and Development and said that “In the absence of a strategic position, when I took office, I assigned to the Civil Research and Development Council the important task of recommending to me technological areas that we should be promoting at the national level. The criteria I defined for the Civil Research and Development Council in the work process were the following: fields that will be at the forefront of global innovation in the next decade, subjects in which Israel has a relative advantage and/or a strategic need, and subjects that will make a significant contribution to maintaining the scientific and research leadership of the State of Israel.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Professor Lavi and all the members of the forum who have devoted the year to this important and clear task, and it is surprising that this has not been done up until now. The technological priority sectors will guarantee Israel’s scientific and technological leadership for decades to come.”