Jerusalem: Booming Biomed Center

The biomedical sector in the capital has grown by 20% in the last three years, and Mayor Barkat plans to raise another 100 million NIS by 2015.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz,

In an Israeli laboratory
In an Israeli laboratory
Israel News Photo: (file)

The biomedical industry in the capital has grown by 20% in the last three years, according to the Jerusalem Development Authority. On Monday, Mayor Nir Barkat announced plans to raise 100 million NIS for investment in the sector by 2015.

Speaking at the ILSI Biomed 2009 conference in Jerusalem, Dr. Shirley Kutner, Executive Director of the Jerusalem Development Authority's BioJerusalem project, observed, "Despite the economic situation, we have seen a 20% growth in the number of companies and a 34% growth in the number of biomed employees in town relative to 2006."

Dr. Kutner explained that, while Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is "the anchor of the pharma industry in Jerusalem," there are currently 110 biomed companies based in Jerusalem, employing "over 3,250 people."

At the Jerusalem Development Authority, Kutner concluded, "We project that the growth trend will significantly increase in the near future. The investment on behalf of biomed companies is expected to top $350 million over the next five years. This growth will be accompanied by an addition of some 2,000 employees with academic degrees in biology, biotechnology, chemistry, pharmacology and engineering."

In his remarks at the conference, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that the Jerusalem Municipality, in collaboration with the Jerusalem Development Authority, intends to raise and invest approximately 100 million NIS over the next five years to promote the health and life sciences business cluster in the capital.

"I am personally committed to the field of biomed and the health and life sciences business cluster as a core competitive advantage that we must exploit in Jerusalem," Barkat said. "Among other things, I intend to award financial incentives in order to encourage international companies to put down roots in Jerusalem, as well as to define Jerusalem as a Special Economic Zone with tax benefits for high-tech and biotech companies. These steps are intended to turn Jerusalem, the health and life sciences capital of the State of Israel, into a renowned partner in the international arena."
Jerusalem leads Israel in the field of life sciences.

The city's investment, a municipal press statement explained, will be allocated to bolstering infrastructure necessary for biomedical research and development, training skilled personnel for the life sciences industry, promoting and populating the first Israeli biomedical industry park, and for establishing an investment fund that will focus on life science companies based in Jerusalem.

Currently, Jerusalem leads Israel in the field of life sciences, with approximately 43% of all biotech research and about half of all clinical research in the country performed at Hebrew University and Hadassah Medical Center, respectively. In addition, Jerusalem hosts the only technological incubator in Israel dedicated to drug development, BioLine Innovations Jerusalem. Recent successes in the field originating at Hebrew University include two innovative drugs, Doxil and Exelon, which are sold worldwide at over a billion dollars annually.